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Photo Credit: NHL.com

CANUCKSARMY’S 2018 NHL DRAFT PROFILES: #7 Evan Bouchard

If one can produce offence the way London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard has in his OHL career, it would usually be enough to garner top three pick consideration. Nobody has gone that far yet with Bouchard on their board, but his season has seen his star rise as a legitimate part of the conversation in the top five.

So, what’s the hang-up? There are legitimate concerns about Bouchard’s skating and commitment to the defensive side of the game. As CanucksArmy’s Harman Dayal pointed out in his excellent article on Bouchard, they’re legitimate concerns, too.

We’re still talking about one of this draft’s better defenceman, and one that could very realistically be the second one to cross the stage after Rasmus Dahlin. On the CanucksArmy consensus rankings, Bouchard skates at a leisurely pace into seventh overall.

Bio

Stats

Career

2017-18 Season

GP G A P SEAL INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 eP160 Sh/Gp Sh% GF% GF%rel GD60rel XLS% XPR xVAL
67 25 62 87 1.34 37.8% 18.5% 0.98 4.43 8% 53.1% 4.2% 0.43 73% 34.9 7.4

Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)

Team Relative

Cohort Based

Our Take

Many in the industry consider Bouchard the second most pro-ready defenceman in this year’s draft; some even believe he could make an NHL lineup as soon as next season. I’m not that bullish — I think his spot on the CanucksArmy board suggests that neither are my peers — on Bouchard, but it’s easy to see why they feel so strongly about the big, right-shot rearguard.

There’s the obvious, Bouchard’s gaudy 87 points (25 goals and 52 assists) in 67 games this season. That mark was good enough for first among OHL defencemen (not just draft-eligible defenceman at that) and as Dayal pointed out in his article, the highest point total and point rate as an 18-year-old in that league since Ryan Ellis’ 89 points in the 2008-09 season.

When we adjust Bouchard’s scoring with the SEAL (Situation Era Age League) method developed by CanucksArmy’s Jeremy Davis, that production is even more jarring. Bouchard’s 1.34 SEAL adjusted points per game are the seventh-highest rate among first-time draft-eligible prospects and second only to Dahlin among defencemen.

Looking at the way pGPS (prospect Graduation Probabilities System) reflects on Bouchard’s shot at the NHL in light of this, using stature and statistical historically comparable players, he checks out with a 72.5% expected success — not bad, right? Based on the players in Bouchard’s cohort, pGPS tags him with a 34.9 expected points per 82 games rate.

The most effective of the tools in Bouchard’s offensive toolkit is his shot. It’s a booming, hard shot that finds its way through traffic with alarming regularity. Because of Bouchard’s excellent vision, he tends to put himself in excellent positions to unload that shot of his, too.

If the shot isn’t there, Bouchard is every bit as apt as a setup man. He’s always processing the game two steps ahead of the opposition. Coupled with a crisp, accurate pass, it’s a deadly combination. You’ll hardly be surprised to find out he’s a hell of a power play quarterback as a result; or that Bouchard does a fine job of breaking the puck out of the defensive zone.

Now for the bad — the reason Bouchard’s not a lock for the top three given his offensive bona fides. If you guessed skating, pat yourself on the back.

Don’t let anyone tell you Bouchard’s mobility isn’t an issue. I can’t add anything that Dayal didn’t cover in extensive detail in his article on the topic just a few days prior, but I can reassert the position therein. If you didn’t read it or don’t have any desire to for some strange reason, Bouchard’s top-speed is fine, but his first two steps, edgework, and lateral movement all need significant improvement.

It’s possible that Bouchard can overcome this flaw in his game or that he could improve with time. If Bouchard doesn’t, though, it’s going to limit his upside. It will turn him from a potential top pair, minute-munching defenceman that can contribute in both phases of special teams to a third pair power play specialist. Sure, Bouchard’s skating is the only major flaw in his game, but that’s a significant part of playing in today’s NHL. That’s the risk with Bouchard.

Overall though, when one weighs the pros and cons, Bouchard comes out in the black, and by a fair margin at that. He’s an excellent prospect in so many respects. The potential exists for Bouchard to be the third-best defenceman in this year’s class. If only there wasn’t a ‘but’ to consider. That’s why Bouchard checks in as the seventh overall prospect in CanucksArmy’s consensus ranking.

Further Reading

Consolidated Average Future Considerations Hockey Prospect.com ISS Hockey McKeen’s The Athletic TSN Bob McKenzie TSN Craig Button The Hockey News Sportsnet ESPN Dobber Prospects
8 9.0 8 15 6 6 $$ 7 5 7 8 8 11

From Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects

Bouchard’s draft-eligible season came to close last week as the London Knights were swept by the Owen Sound Attack. Bouchard had a tremendous third season in the OHL, completing his regular season with a whopping 87 points in 67 games. The point total represented the highest mark for any first-time draft-eligible skater in the CHL – not just defenders but all skaters. His 297 shots were the second most in the OHL. He tacked on a goal and four helpers in four playoff games. Bouchard has watched his stock grow all season long from being a guy consistently ranked in the mid-20s to landing at fifth overall on Craig Button’s most recent list. The big, right-shot defender was the focal point of the Knights offence and often saw upwards of 30 minutes a game in all situations. He’ll be snatched up early this June and is the type of player who could conceivably crack an NHL lineup in the fall due to his late 1999 birthday and accomplished CHL resume.

CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings

#8 Ty Smith #9 Brady Tkachuk #10 Adam Boqvist
#11 Isac Lundestrom #12 Noah Dobson #13 Joseph Veleno
#14 Joel Farabee #15 AKIL THOMAS #16 RYAN MERKLEY
#17 BARRETT HAYTON #18 Rasmus Kupari #19 RYAN MCLEOD
#20 JONATAN BERGGREN #21 VITALI KRAVTSOV #22 ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV
#23 CALEN ADDISON #24 DOMINIK BOKK #25 SERRON NOEL
#26 MARTIN KAUT #27 DAVID GUSTAFSSON #28 JAKE WISE
#29 BODE WILDE #30 RASMUS SANDIN #31 COLE FONSTAD
#32 JETT WOO #33 ALLAN MCSHANE #34 K’ANDRE MILLER
#35 JACOB OLOFSSON #36 NATHAN DUNKLEY #37 NILS LUNDKVIST
#38 JONATHAN GRUDEN #39 FILIP HALLANDER #40 JARED MCISAAC
#41 Nicolas Beaudin #42 Jack McBain #43 Ty Dellandrea
#44 Jesse Ylonen #45 Mattias Samuelsson #46 Jonny Tychonick
#47 Niklas Nordgren #48 Aidan Dudas #49 GRIGORI DENISENKO
#50 KYLE TOPPING #51 BLADE JENKINS #52 SEAN DURZI
#53 JACK DRURY #54 JAKUB LAUKO #55 JACOB RAGNARSSON
#56 ANDERSON MACDONALD #57 ADAM GINNING #58 FILIP KRAL
#59 Albin Eriksson # 60 Adam Samuelsson #61 Cameron Hillis
#62 Philipp Kurashev #63 BLAKE MCLAUGHLIN #64 MARCUS WESTFELT
#65 MILOS ROMAN #66 OSKAR BACK #67 GABRIEL FORTIER
#68 RILEY SUTTER #69 YEGOR SOKOLOV #70 ALEXANDER KHOVANOV
#71 CURTIS DOUGLAS #72 BENOIT-OLIVIER GROULX #73 SAMPO RANTA
#74 MARCUS KARLBERG #75 AXEL ANDERSSON #76 DAVID LILJA
#77 KODY CLARK #78 DMITRY ZAVGORODNY #79 LINUS NYMAN
#80 LIAM FOUDY #81 LINUS KARLSSON #82 Jachym Kondelik
#83 SCOTT PERNOVICH #84 G JAKUB SKAREK #85 TY EMBERSON
#86 JAY O’BRIEN #87 CARL WASSENIUS #88 VLADISLAV KOTKOV
#89 EMIL WESTERLUND #90 JERRY TURKULAINEN #91 STANISLAV DEMIN
#92 TYLER MADDEN #93 JAN JENIK #94 G OLIVIER RODRIGUE
#95 XAVIER BERNARD #96 KRISTIAN TANUS #97 LUKAS WERNBLOM
#98 NANDO EGGENBERGER #99 MATTHEW STRUTHERS #100 SHAWN BOURDIAS

 

  • TD

    An article at NHL.com that quoted scouts had a different take on his defensive play. They thought he was a good defender. They acknowledged his skating issues while stating his smart reads, positional play and reach counteracted any skating issues. Their article talked about Bouchard regularly lining up against and shutting down the OHL’s speediest forwards.

    I wish I had a crystal ball, there are just too many variations and opinions on all the lists.

    • truthseeker

      This quote didn’t even have an issue with his skating…

      “I’ve seen Bouchard go toe-to-toe with some of the fastest players in the OHL. He’s got no issues with his feet so those worries were put to bed for me a long time ago.”

      Of course that’s just one scout so take it for what it’s worth, but it also shouldn’t be ignored.

    • truthseeker

      quite possible for sure. It’s quite possible a lot of teams might be sandbagging on him. I don’t read everything but it seems like every time I see something from Benning he’s talking about Dobson. He seems to not talk about the guy he’s really interested in. In this case I’m thinking it’s Bouchard. I don’t recall many if any quotes from him about Bouchard.

      • argoleas

        The London Connection w/ Horvat and Juolevi?

        I agree. Either he is blatantly telegraphing his choice (D in general, and Dobson in particular), or he is in deception mode. Guess he learned from 2017 when McPhee figured out Benning wanted Pettersson from the start and did not trade for that pick.

        Wonder if we will have a video of him mic’d up again.

        • truthseeker

          I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s partly that. Makes sense to me too. Like Pettersson with Dahlen as well. Why not choose the guy who’s got experience with your other guys if, again, there isn’t much separating all the picks. Plus that London Knights program seems to produce some good talent. I think it’s most certainly a factor to look at the organization that develops kids and their overall track record.

  • Rodeobill

    Even if he CAN become an awesome PP QB he is worth gold on our team, and the more I think about it, even if he works to improve his skating to league average he should be a home run with all the other assets he brings. I don’t know, it seems whomever drops to 7 is going to be a gamble in one sense or another and his challenges are few, easy to diagnose, and with proper coaching and training, able to address. Everything else is there.
    Hockey IQ, size, minute munching RHD, with very high offensive upside. I can’t say I would be disappointed with this pick either.

    • truthseeker

      The canucks have never really had that big point producing D man and that’s something I’d love to see. Doug Lidster, who was a great D man got 60 odd points in the 80’s…lol… and that’s the best we’ve had.

      • Green Bastard

        truthseeker… doug had the one season where he scored 63 pts (was also a -35), but was a 20-30 point guy the rest of his time in Van. Jyki Lumme on the other hand had a couple of mid 50 pt seasons, a couple of mid 40 pt seasons and a couple more pt totals closer to Doug’s numbers. Just sayin

        • truthseeker

          not sure what you’re getting at. my only point was that the canucks have never had a high scoring D man. Lidster was an example of the 63 points in an era when 63 points was virtually nothing.

          • Green Bastard

            I was just making an observation… while Doug’s 63 pts was the best we’ve had in a season from a d man, I think Lumme was prolly “the best we’ve had” as a pt producing d man, overall. Not trolling, not trying to hurt feelings, not trying to irritate the fist tight sphincter aurora that is present here , just discussing hockey stuff related to the topic. Cheers

          • Jabs

            All Lumme had to do was get the puck to Bure and he would get 60 points/year.

            That could mean a good pass but more often just a backhanded flip out of the zone and Bure would use his speed to catch up with it and pop the goal.

          • truthseeker

            I wouldn’t argue that. Lumme was an excellent defender to watch. Loved the way he played the game. Lumme was far more than just “pass to Bure”. That guy skated out of trouble amazingly well. I seem to remember it being kind of nerve racking actually, but he got away with it most times.

            Wasn’t irritated. Just didn’t understand what you were trying to say.

      • Jeff Brown and Christian Ehrhoff were PP specialists that could shoot from the point. We picked up via trade but retained them for only short periods of time (2-3 seasons). Is it any coincidence that in the window when we got those guys, we made it to the Stanley Cup Finals both times?

          • The Canucks were asking for Shanahan as compensation for signing Nedved but the league awarded Janney. The Canucks didn’t want Janney so they “traded” him back to St. Louis for Brown, Hedican, and Lafayette.

            On a related note, the Canucks acquired Ronning, Courtnall, Dirk, and Momesso from St. Louis for Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher a few years earlier. Those two trades with St. Louis gave us core parts of the 1994 Cup run.

          • truthseeker

            Yeah that’s right. Janney didn’t want to come here. Blessing in disguise on that one.

            And no, I don’t think it’s any coincidence at all. You’re exactly right. Having a D man like those made a huge difference in the playoffs. The 10 canucks were an excellent team but lack of D depth killed them. Getting Ehrhoff in really put them into Juggernaut status.

    • argoleas

      Looks like the top 6 Dmen could end up being good offensive drivers and point producers. So Dahlin, the Next 4, and Smith. Will be interesting to view this draft’s Dmen in 5 years or so.