The Edmonton Oilers are hoping for big things out of defensive prospect Evan Bouchard. A high-end draft pick with a potential for elite offensive skill, specifically as a power play quarterback or point-producing NHLer, every bit of playing time Bouchard gets right now is critical.
With that in mind, it’s great news for the Oilers organization that, not only is Bouchard playing well for Sodertalje SK in the HockeyAllsvenskan (17 points in 23 games), but he says he’s figuring out the game in Sweden and working on key things that should help his chances of making the Oilers out of camp.
Bouchard spoke with Gene Principe of Sportsnet recently and noted that while he’s not picked up a lot of the Swedish language, he is getting used to the different style of game and the bigger ice surface. Bouchard notes, “It was definitely a change, the type of play here is different than what I’m used to.” He added, “The big ice is something I had to get used to but I think in the long run it’s going to help me adjust really well to going back home.”
Principe asked if the level of hockey was as good and what he expected. Bouchard responded that he had no idea what to expect, only that he’d heard about the big ice and said, “I heard it’s kind of a defensive league when I first came over here and it shows in a way.”
He talked about how different the style of play is and how much the league leans on guys hanging onto the puck versus chipping and chasing. “It’s more of a keep the puck so you don’t have to go get it kind of thing.”
When asked if that would help him and his style of play, Bouchard said that his strength is his offense but he came over focused on the defensive end and closing on people quicker on the bigger ice surface. He said he wanted to keep up his production but be a stronger player on the opposite side of the puck.
Must Be Music to the Oilers’ Ears
Considering the knock on Bouchard might be that he’s more one-dimensional than he is well-rounded, that he’s focusing on his defense while still producing is great news.
And, because of the new rules that suggest the Oilers won’t bring the Bakersfield Condors to Edmonton to be closer to the NHL team, Bouchard will likely be part of the taxi squad that will get a closer look with the Oilers. If the team believes he’s reliable at both ends of the ice, he’s bound to play… and play a lot.