2016-17 Team: London Knights (#2)
Date of Birth: October 20, 1999
Place of Birth: Oakville, Ontario
Ht: 6’2” Wt: 192 lbs.
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 4th (among NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations: 9th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 6th
- Hockeyprospect.com: 15th
- ISS Hockey: 6th
- Bob McKenzie: 7th
- Craig Button: 5th
- Jeff Marek: 8th
To call the 2017-18 season a positive for draft-eligible defenceman Evan Bouchard is an understatement. His London Knights made the bold decision to trade away arguably their top four players in Max Jones, Robert Thomas, Cliff Pu and Sam Miletic leading up to the deadline and in the midst of a playoff-bound season. Still, Bouchard carried the Knights.
He took on a leadership role, named the captain of the OHL’s storied franchise shortly after the trades, and averaged more minutes on a nightly basis than any other Knights player.
He climbed the franchises all-time lists with a 25-goal and 87-point season and helped the Knights into the playoffs where they were eventually swept by the Owen Sound Attack in the first round. Still, Bouchard’s on-ice intelligence and hockey sense are unlike so many others.
He’s a smooth skater and can quarterback the power play with an incredible slap shot to go along with it. While he’s almost too nonchalant at times in his own zone, he plays the game with poise and doesn’t shy away from any aspect of it. He’s ranked all over the map depending on who you talk to, but he will be a top-10 pick when the draft rolls around.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Evan Bouchard – NHL Draft Projection
While Rasmus Dahlin is the clear number one when it comes to defensemen in this draft, Bouchard shouldn’t be overlooked. He put up 87 points in 67 games which should be considered when teams look at his resume. That said, the three wingers in Svechnikov, Tkachuk and Zadina being clumped together could push Bouchard to the fifth or sixth spot when it comes to calling out his name at the podium.
“A highly intelligent all-around defenceman that plays with poise and can shift the pace of play in a multitude of ways. Showcases smooth four-way skating ability and loves to get involved in all situations – especially when that situation happens to be an up-ice rush. Has a polished offensive skill-set which includes well-timed passes and a sneaky, erratic shot. Goes with the high percentage play and makes smart decisions. Could work on strength behind his shot. Defensively active, cutting off lanes and always staying in excellent positioning. Reads cues well in all three zones and seems to stay a step ahead. All-in-all, a well-rounded defender with great hockey sense and work ethic.” – Curtis Joe/Elite Prospects
“Bouchard is a very good skater with excellent mobility in all directions. He uses that mobility, and his high hockey smarts, to be effective and dangerous jumping up into the play. He can clear his zone with an excellent first pass, but if you’re not on top of him quickly and give him any amount of ice, he can skate the puck up ice quickly and efficiently. He can quarterback a power play and is an excellent passer – something that gets overlooked at times.” – Dominic Tiano/OHL Writers
“Offensively, Bouchard delivers a consistent effort with his puck management and playmaking, though the prevailing knock on him appears to be average straight-line speed. The good news is that Bouchard is nimble for his size, plus he has excellent timing and awareness to eventually outmaneuver pressure and join the attack deep into enemy territory. His feet are quick enough to maintain a tight gap while backskating, and his massive wingspan and long, active stick help limit the number of times an onrushing forward breezes past him. Bouchard has top-pairing potential with the skills and smarts to be a big point producer at the NHL level.” – Steve Kournianos/The Draft Analyst
- Hockey sense and vision
- Cutting off the gaps
- Strength and size
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Nonchalant play in defensive end
- Accuracy of shot
If Bouchard can iron out the few flaws in his game, there’s almost no question that he will land within a team’s top four down the road. While he likely won’t crack an NHL lineup next season, it won’t be long before he does find himself in the big leagues.
Risk – 2.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7.5/10 Defence – 8/10
While he’s still just making a name for himself at this point, Bouchard has picked up a few awards along the way. That includes a gold medal at the U17 World Hockey Championships in 2015-16 where he had the most points by a defenceman with six and was named to the WHC all-star team. On top of that, he closed out his rookie OHL season with the Knights by helping the team win the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.