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Photo Credit: NHL.com

Noah Dobson vs. Evan Bouchard: Analyzing Which Defenceman the Canucks Should Prefer

Should the Canucks keep the seventh overall pick, they’ll have no shortage of sensible options when they walk up to the podium on June 22nd in Dallas. Two of the most intriguing prospects among that cohort are right-handed defencemen, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson.

Ranking one above the other is a difficult task — one that’s yielded divisive results among the public scouting industry.

A detailed breakdown comparing their abilities in each of the key facets of a defenceman’s game can provide clarity on a debate that’s yet to establish a consensus.

Skating

Being able to fluently move around the ice in a league that’s trending towards speed and skill is imperative for success at the NHL level.

Both defencemen move well in straight-lines with long and powerful strides, but it’s Dobson’s deft footwork and impressive acceleration that makes him a decisively superior skater compared to Bouchard.

Dobson’s strength on his edges is apparent with the way he’s able to control his stride as he rounds the corner. It’s that turn that couples with his two-step quickness as he heads up the ice that allows Dobson to separate himself from the forechecker.

That same acceleration lends itself as an asset when jumping up in the rush.

This contrasts Bouchard who lacks explosiveness to create separation.

I wrote a piece last week that was solely dedicated to taking a comprehensive look at Bouchard’s skating, so I’d recommend checking that out for an extensive breakdown. Ultimately, skating won’t be a liability for Bouchard like it is for some players, but his acceleration, edgework and turns will hinder his effectiveness in some aspects of play moving forward — many of which we’ll tackle in this piece.

Winner: Dobson

Puck Moving Ability

Transitioning play up the ice is among the most valuable assets that each of these defencemen owns. Where the difference lies between them is in the contrasting ways they’ll achieve those successful breakouts once they graduate into the professional ranks.

One immediate advantage for Dobson is in the way he’s calmly able to skate the puck out of danger. He’s cerebral and methodical under pressure; effortlessly able to navigate around pressure. It’s a quality closely correlated with feet movement, so it’s no surprise to see him stand out in this regard.

Bouchard might be limited in this regard due to his mediocre acceleration, but he’s a force in his own right when given the time and space to pick up steam.

The problem is that he’ll struggle to consistently find that time and space against the better forechecking teams in the NHL. In the second clip, for example, Bouchard is fortunate to have room to move because of the extremely slow skating of 6-foot-8 Spitfires’ forward Curtis Douglas from the half wall.

The puck moves faster than any player on the ice though, and in this regard, Bouchard’s passing and vision in transition stand head and shoulders above the defencemen in this draft class save for Rasmus Dahlin and Adam Boqvist.

Bouchard always has his head up with the hope of either catching the opposition off guard with a stretch pass or using the boards for a creative breakout. I’d like to see him improve his decision making and force fewer passes up the middle(many of which led to icings and turnovers), but that’s a nitpick that can easily be fixed with coaching. What can’t be taught, on the other hand, is the exquisite accuracy of Bouchard’s outlet passes.

Microdata that The Athletic’s Mitch Brown tracked reflected well on each blueliner’s transition skillset.

Where the two differ in their results are controlled exit percentage and success rates. Bouchard’s lower success rate falls in line with my belief that he forced difficult passes that led to turnovers, whereas Dobson appeared to limit his failures with a safer approach that included its fair share of clearances.

As the entry numbers can attest, both players were also effective on the rush. When they weren’t carrying the puck into the zone themselves, they were often joining it as second or third options. Dobson might hold an edge in this area because of his separation gear, but Bouchard was no slouch in picking up speed to catch up to the play either. Furthermore, Bouchard has superior instincts when driving to the net — always aware of which lane to take to be most effective.

While both Dobson and Bouchard own a good first-pass, they’ll differ at the NHL level with how they transition play out of the defensive zone. Bouchard will need to be more reliant on his processing ability, vision and playmaking, whereas Dobson will lean towards carrying the puck using his speed.

Either way, both defenders project to be pivotal contributors at moving the puck up the ice.

Winner: Draw

Playmaking and Vision

If Dobson thinks the game a step ahead of the play in the offensive zone, Bouchard thinks of it two steps ahead.

That assertion isn’t an indictment on Dobson’s vision or playmaking acumen, but rather a special testament to the way Bouchard sees the ice. The latter is incredibly patient with the puck — willing to hold back from firing into an open shooting lane to instead open up a more dangerous passing seam.

Bouchard always has his head up and on a swivel, looking to evaluate his options before he receives the puck regardless of his positioning in the offensive zone.

Connecting on passes in tight spaces has become the norm for Bouchard, who has an expansive arsenal of nifty backhand, saucer and slap passes.

Unlike Bouchard who capitalizes on defensive inefficiencies with his creative passing ability, Dobson uses his mobility with and without the puck. He processes the game well — understanding how to create and identify new space and lanes. Dobson achieves the former by proactively shifting off the puck and switching positions with his point partner on the man advantage. 

With the puck, he loves to dart down the right wing boards from the point when he sees an empty lane.

These assets aren’t enough for Dobson to come remotely close to Bouchard’s primary shot and scoring chance assist rates, though.

Primary shot assists and scoring chance assists are recorded each time said player makes a pass that directly leads to a shot and/or a scoring chance. It’s a small sample size to draw from, but a telling sign nonetheless.

Winner: Bouchard

Shot

Statistically, Dobson and Bouchard are neck and neck when it comes to shot generation. Dobson was fourth among QMJHL skaters with 276 shots, while Bouchard finished 2nd among all OHL players for the same category with 297 of his own. Conversion became the difference as Bouchard finished with eight more goals than Dobson for a total of 25 for the season.

In this case, I think that goal totals are more indicative of their shooting capabilities as opposed to shots on net. Dobson owns a decent shooting package, but he has a tendency to pepper the net with low-percentage shots from the point that largely end up in the goalie’s crest or glove. Bouchard is more selective with letting attempts fly, but more importantly, his shot itself has characteristics that will make it a potent weapon in the NHL.

Power is the obvious strength when looking at Bouchard’s slapshot and one-timer, but the accuracy is almost as impressive. He packages that shot with a poise that’s transparent in the instances where he’ll hang onto the puck for a split second longer to create a more dangerous shot attempt. That can mean faking a shot to buy a moment for his teammates to create traffic, or simply waiting for the shooting angle to change so he can get the puck past the first man in traffic. Bouchard also excels at driving the puck on net low in the hopes of finding tips and creating rebounds. This contrasts Dobson, who often wrists long pucks on net without the conscious intention of finding deflections or shooting at the pads to generate second-chance opportunities.

Technique wise, Bouchard releases the puck well on his shots. His short windup doubles as a way of firing quick passes into newly created coverage holes. Speaking of passing, Bouchard’s lethal shot commands respect that indirectly benefits the team. Opposing team members can be overzealous in their commitment to block Bouchard’s shooting lane — consistently leaving the back door open for him to thread a pass.

Both defencemen were able to beat goalies cleanly with their shot in junior, but Dobson will have to improve both his velocity and accuracy to do the same against professional goaltenders.

Winner: Bouchard

Own Zone Play

Both Dobson and Bouchard hold natural advantages away from the puck due to their 6-foot-3 frames. They have long reaches, are effective at taking the man in puck battles, and box out forwards well near the goal mouth.

Apart from these few similarities, Dobson and Bouchard couldn’t be more different in the way they approach defending.

For his part, Dobson is always proactive in the defensive zone — coupling quick processing ability and excellent mobility to anticipate plays and take time and space away from the opposition.

On the surface, the second clip may seem like an elementary check, but watch Dobson’s movement before the pass is even made. He shifts to the corner in anticipation of a pass as soon the Rempart’s forward picks up the puck at the half-wall.

Dobson does overcommit and position too aggressively on occasion, but it’s a habit that can be refined with maturity and coaching.

Bouchard differs in that he prefers to drift to the middle of the ice and remain relatively stationary to protect the high danger scoring positions. It’s a sound principle in logic, but issues arose when Bouchard refused to move his feet to adjust for coverage holes.

A caveat one should keep in mind, however, is the obscene minutes that Bouchard played for his depleted London team. You’re bound to pace yourself if you know you’re going to be playing 30+ minutes.

Even still, I don’t see Bouchard suddenly becoming great in his own zone with easier minutes. He needs to improve his footwork, edges and first two steps to better close gaps and angles in the defensive zone.

Down low, both players are strong, but it’s Dobson that holds a slight edge with his mobility. The Summerside, PEI native relies on his deft edgework to maintain a tight gap; choosing to activate his strong stick work to disrupt possession when he sees the attacker expose the puck for even a split second.

Both players were deployed in key defensive situations for their teams, but it’s Dobson that takes the cake as the markedly better player defending in his own zone.

Winner: Dobson

Neutral Zone Defence

In a league that’s prioritizing high-end speed and skill, guarding the blueline is among the strongest assets for a defenceman. Preventing controlled entries into the offensive zone is critical when considering that they’re twice as likely to produce shot attempts relative to dump-ins.

For Dobson, this sticks out as one of his best skills. The same combination of anticipation, mobility and reach that made him successful in the defensive zone, proves its merit when defending the rush.

Explosive lateral movement, tight gap control and adept stickwork are the pillars for Dobson’s neutral zone success.

His counterpart Bouchard isn’t nearly as consistent in his performance, but he too has his moments where he snuffs out dangerous counterattacks.

Bouchard’s success defending the rush is predicated on maintaining a tight gap and keeping the attacker in front of him. When he’s unable to do one of these, he either drops back passively to protect the middle(which affords the attacker lots of time and space to make a play) or he’s burned for speed after a slow turn.

You’d like Bouchard to then play a tighter gap to keep the man in front of him, but it’s not as simple as that. If he plays the wrong angle or closes half a step late, he knows he doesn’t have the agility and speed to recover like Dobson.

The difference between the two’s neutral zone defence is also apparent when comparing CHL microdata.

As I mentioned in my last article covering Bouchard, it’s important to understand that the results would have been skewed against him to a degree because of the neutral zone trap I noticed London playing.

In this case, the eye test would be a better judge, for which, Dobson still remains the better neutral zone defender.

Winner: Dobson

Conclusion

We’ve covered a whole lot of information, so let’s recap the results for each category.

Skating: Dobson

Puck Moving Ability: Draw

Playmaking and Vision: Bouchard

Shot: Bouchard

Own Zone Play: Dobson

Neutral Zone Defence: Dobson

As the assessment above indicates, there isn’t a whole lot separating Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard. I give Dobson the leg up considering his all-around plaudits and consummate skating ability, but it’s up to the individual team to figure out what type of right-handed defenceman they want.

Want the blueliner with incredible offensive instincts and playmaking ability? Go with Evan Bouchard. Looking for a defenceman who can log heavy minutes in all situations and effectively contribute in all three zones? Call Noah Dobson’s name in Dallas and get a coveted combination of size, speed and skill from the backend.

As it pertains to the Canucks, they need a workhorse who can play in all situations on the right side and Dobson presents that potential in spades. Evan Bouchard is a fantastic prospect in his own right, but I don’t see him as the ideal choice at seventh overall. Certainly not if Noah Dobson is still on the board when the Canucks walk up to the podium to make their pick.

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  • DB1282

    what if they are both gone, I don’t want the Canucks to draft an undersized d man who we won’t see in the lineup for years, if they are both still there Bouchard has an NHL ready body and if he can improve his skating might turn out be the better choice

      • Peachy

        Juolevi isn’t a bust; he may become a solid top four, or even top two defender.

        But the pick was mistake because information available at the time suggested that there were better players.

        • truthseeker

          What information? OJ was ranked the best D man in the draft in 9 out of 14 rankings. He was ranked ahead of all the people the self loathers like to hindsight.

          • truthseeker

            So you criticize website rankings and in the very next breath appeal to authority with CA. Nice logic.

            Sorry Dirk but since we’re only able to access the public scouting records then that’s all I can make an argument on. And since all those rankings actually use real scouts as their sources, yeah I personally would put a bit more stock in what they have to say than Canucks Army (no offense to the fine work being done here).

            Again Dirk you are making a strawman argument. I’ve never claimed anywhere that GM’s wouldn’t have their own evaluation tools and make decisions. For example 3 other teams passed on Sergachev too. So you’re not really making a point. Obviously those 3 GM’s didn’t think he was that great either. Once again you use hindsight bias to try to make a point.

          • Dirk22

            My point is that it is ridiculous to excuse a bad draft choice (not saying Juolevi is one) because website rankings had him high. It’s like when you excuse poor returns on players (Taylor Hall) on the market for defencemen. What’s the point of GM’s if the scouting already been done for them and any trade they execute is just the result of some predetermined market value?

            Yes the CA rankings are just subjective opinions that shouldn’t be justification for whatever Benning does but don’t you feel silly calling out the ‘hindsight self loathers’ on the very same website that had Juolevi ranked lower than where he went? The same website that said don’t draft Virtanen. This year the same website has an obvious affection for Hughes. If the Canucks choose Bouchard over Hughes this year and then Hughes goes on to stardom are you going to accuse everyone of hindsight again? That’s logic I can’t follow.

          • truthseeker

            Have I ever “excused” a draft pick because they were drafted high? I don’t think I have. Of course a bust is a bust. I have no problem admitting that when an appropriate amount of time has passed to make that determination.

            And I’ve never “excused” the poor return on Taylor Hall. If that’s what you think then you still don’t understand my point, but I’m not sure why because I’ve made it perfectly clear. Larsson was the best the market was willing to pay at the time. That is the point. You and many others on here seem to have a very hard time separating the objective truth of that, with the subjective idea of if it was a good trade or not, and seem to think I’m saying it was a good trade…lol. This is very elementary logic yet I’m not sure if it’s just a knee jerk reflex from seeing my user name and then assuming the rest without thinking it through or if the very core of that reasoning simply doesn’t resonate.

            CA making a pre draft subjective prediction has nothing to do with the conclusions already drawn by people after the fact. I can’t believe you’re even making an argument like this frankly. No, I don’t feel silly at all about calling out people who base conclusions on after the fact information plus doing it prematurely when significant time to make a final determination has not taken place. It’s almost like you don’t even know what the word hindsight means Dirk.

            Unless you can show me posts guaranteeing 100% Juolevi would be a failure and guarantees that their chosen players would for 100% sure be better…then no dirk…they don’t get the benefit of the doubt. By all means though…show me the people who conclusively worded it that way with no doubt in their minds.

            You still don’t get it….the hindsight is the conclusion that Juolevi is a bust because Sergachev is successful. Which is how they argue it. “Tkachuk is playing games, OJ isn’t therefore OJ is a bust and Tkachuk isn’t.” That’s how they argue it dirk. Not “CA predicted Tkachuk would be better”.

            But by all means we can set you up right now for the future. All you’ve got to do is say yes to the following and you will never in the future be accused about hindsight bias from me about Hughes and Bouchard.

            Are you saying with 100% certainty that Hughes IS the better pick than Bouchard and you know with 100% certainty that Hughes will be a top 4 success in the NHL and that Bouchard will with 100% certainty be worse than Hughes?

            Because unless you say “yes” to this now…everything else you say in the future in terms of “I told you so” will be hindsight bias. That IS what hindsight bias is.

            I don’t recall any of the self loathers every making sure predictions about Juolevi. So they can shut their pie holes. At best they took a guess, and when it happened they took the “credit” and said “see I told you.” Hindsight Dirk…unless you guaranteed it. Otherwise you’re just talking out of your behind.

          • Gino über alles

            The same experts that said that Juolevi would be the best defensemen in the draft also said that Tkachuk and Sergechev would be more physically ready to play that Juolevi was, there is nothing about his development so far that is a surprise to anyone that really follows the game. OJ is a much more cerebral than physical player, and once his body catches up to his mind then we’ll be able to see whether or not Benning made the right call then.

            Anyone even mentioning the words Juolevi and bust in the same sentence should be dragged out into the streets and shot, he may not be that elite top pairing defenseman but there is no way we’ve seen the best of this kid yet. Chill out, have a beer, and establish some faith in the kid….I’m looking forward to seeing him thread passes to an equally intelligent player in Pettersson and seeing what they do to the league in a few years time.

          • Dirk22

            1. You’ve justified the Virtanen pick numerous times because he was rated highly by internet draft boards.

            2. “Larsson was the best the market was willing to pay at the time. That is the point.”

            If that’s the case, what is even the point of GM’s. Does every transaction has a predetermined price point? You have no idea how that trade went down. You have no idea how the negotiations went. You have no idea how many others teams, if any, were involved. Chiarelli got fleeced and dramatically overpaid for a second pair defencemen. That’s the reality. For all you know, Montreal would have given up Subban for Hall. Continually using that trade as a barometer for the price of defencemen is just dumb.

            3. “CA making a pre draft subjective prediction has nothing to do with the conclusions already drawn by people after the fact.”

            So weak truthseeker. It’s a safe play by you though as no one can dig up evidence for who they wanted back in 2014 or in 2016. In your world everyone must have been thrilled with the Virtanen (over Ehlers and Nylander) and Juolevi (over Tkachuk, Keller and Sergachev) picks at the time but have only since turned on them! Personally, I hated the Virtanen pick at the time but in your world that’s just hindsight. I had no real feelings in 2016 (other than the fact that I hated them drafting for position) as I was convinced they were getting Dubois.

            4. “You still don’t get it….the hindsight is the conclusion that Juolevi is a bust because Sergachev is successful. Which is how they argue it. “Tkachuk is playing games, OJ isn’t therefore OJ is a bust and Tkachuk isn’t.”

            That’s how they argue it? C’mon!! Not sure about that. It’s more like – Sergachev, Keller and Tkachuk are all very good players in the NHL and Juolevi hasn’t made huge strides as a #5 prospect.

            And BTW, does it even matter if these people are ‘hindsighters.’ Should we not have expectations for the GM’s who are making millions of dollars. If people can claim Pettersson and Boeser are exceptional picks why can they not say Juolevi and Virtanen were terrible picks.

            5. Are you saying with 100% certainty that Hughes IS the better pick than Bouchard and you know with 100% certainty that Hughes will be a top 4 success in the NHL and that Bouchard will with 100% certainty be worse than Hughes?

            That’s an impossible ask for anybody but I can 100% say I’d rather they choose Hughes than Bouchard if that option is available. Just as I 100% didn’t want them to take Virtanen in 2014 and I 100% think drafting for position is a futile strategy.

          • truthseeker

            1. We were talking about busts Dirk. Jake isn’t a bust yet. Not enough time has passed. Not too mention I’m referring to when the pick was made, not after like you are now. Again..you don’t seem to understand what hindsight is. And “internet draft boards” is what all of us use to make our opinions so you can try to belittle it by wording it like that all you want but it’s what you are using when you spout off your opinions too so stop being a hypocrite.

            2. This is just one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever seen. Are you actually being serious? First off maybe you should study supply and demand. Once you understand what that is, then you should maybe realize that the existence of supply and demand as a concept doesn’t negate the need for salespeople/business people to put it into practice. It’s two separate things Dirk. wow. I can’t believe I even have to explain this.

            Again….no where did I ever say he didn’t get fleeced. Seems like you’ll never be able to logically process the point properly because you’re doing it again. Not sure what else to say. If you can’t even understand the basic reasoning behind my argument then it’s impossible for us to have a discussion.

            And you know as well as I do I use far more than that trade as a barometer. I’ve mentioned at least 4 or 5 other recent trades that all show how the position of D itself costs a premium. So cut the bullsh…. Ignoring all the other examples I’ve listed because they don’t fit your agenda here, is just cowardly.

            3 and 4. I never said you couldn’t disagree with a pick. I do remember lots of people here not wanting Virtanen. Again…for the millionth time…..that’s not the point. The point is they do argue it like that Dirk. You trying to down play it like they don’t is very sad.

            I never called Boeser or the Pettersson picks “exceptional”. Or any other words similar to that. The pick isn’t exceptional or a bust because of making the pick itself. It’s luck Dirk. Always. On both sides. It’s why I don’t make stupid extreme conclusive statements either way. And people who do…on both sides, are all illogical morons because they can never know for sure. Then these same morons try to take credit when luck proves them right, and scatter away into the shadow like cockroaches when they are wrong.

            5. Right. Exactly. It’s impossible to say. Thanks for finally understanding the point. So you’ll be sure to criticize all those who later come out and say conclusively that they knew it should have been Hughes right?

            See..you prefer Hughes, but you’re not sure. Benning prefers player who is not Hughes, but he’s not 100% sure either. So how are either of you “wrong”… if either of your players fails? At the time you make the pick…you are not wrong. You simply prefer one player to another. It’s only hindsight that makes one person “right” and one person “wrong”. And that’s why it is always hindsight bias to criticize any GM over the picks they make in any given round after the fact by comparing their pick to someone else they could have had just because that player had success. It’s not logical.

          • Dirk22

            Let’s try to sort through this muck. Here are some questions I have for you:

            Do you think A) Larsson was the best player Chiarelli could have got for Hall? As in – he put it out there to the entire league that he was trading Hall, for whatever reason, and the best anyone could muster was Adam Larsson. So the whole league had a shot at Hall but no one was willing to give up more than Larsson. Or do you think B) he targeted Larsson and offered up Hall as a return? As in, he knew they needed a right handed shot as well as a ‘change in culture’, so he went to New Jersey, inquired about Larsson, was given the price and pulled the trigger.

            Do you think there is a point to a team having a scouting department? If any one of us can go to a draft board and then be at the mercy of ‘luck’ why do we need scouts? If the only difference between the success of Bouchard and the success of Hughes is luck then couldn’t a team just save a bunch of money, time and effort, use a consensus board of some sort and just hope luck falls on their side?

          • truthseeker

            Yes. A for sure. With the caveat that he went to other GM’s and said he wanted a D man. And yes, the best NHL playing D man he could land was Larsson. I’ve said this a few times. There is no way in a million years a GM would ever limit his market to one player. Even if Larsson was his main target he would have done his due diligence to see what else he could have brought back.

            And if this is where you’ve found some interview with Charelli where he says something like “Larsson was the guy we wanted”… just chalk that up to b s GM’s say to manage the player coming in. Of course he’s not going to want Larsson to feel like there were other targets they couldn’t get.

            Actually Dirk at this point I think that probably might be true. I’m sure access to players with psych interviews gives them a slightly better advantage than public rankings but I bet it doesn’t matter that much in the end. Once you get into a given group of players, like we have this draft from 2 to 10, where they are all basically the same in terms of talent, with some having this weakness or that weakness etc…it’s virtually a guessing game. Trying to predict which player won’t flake out at becoming a pro where the spotlight is on them. Which one will actually put in the work to be a pro and not just coast on talent. As I said, interviews can help with that, but these kids know how to game that system as well, at this point. They’ll say all the right things to teams. (or wrong things if they don’t want to be drafted by a specific team).

            Obviously you need to know various layers of talent in a draft. It’s not wise to take a 7th rounder over Dahlin. That should go without saying. But when it gets down to the subtle differences between a Bouchard and a Hughes. It doesn’t matter. All outcomes of success or failure are possible with two kids like that because there are way to many factors that are in no way measurable, that will lead to their success or failure.

  • Holmes

    As grandma used to say – a dilly of a pickle. Prefer the Canucks swap Tanev for a young d man or a first rounder to use on a d man, and then use their #7 pick on a high-end forward

  • ned

    Dobson all day if he’s available, but I feel like he may be snatched up before 7. Detroit took him out for dinner, so maybe they favor him over hometown boy Hughes, which would be great for us. Fingers crossed.

  • Holly Wood

    Hoping we get one of Bouchard or Dobson. If they are both gone, Instead of an undersized D man there will be a good forward that has fallen a few spots.

  • apr

    Seems like Dobson and Bouchard are akin to picking Drew Doughty or Alex Pieterangelo. Frankly, I’m fine with either. Given where guys like Webber, Subban, Josi, McAvoy have been picked – its really splitting hairs. The only thing that could separate these guys is what the Nucks identified in the interviews.

  • Killer Marmot

    Excellent and thorough analysis. Well done.

    My preference in such a close race would be the better defensive player, meaning Dobson. Higher level offensive talent doesn’t always carry over from the minors into the NHL, but sound defense does.

  • Gampbler

    Nicely done article! I’ve questioned your use of video in the past as perhaps cherry picking the narrative, but you provided statistical analysis to back up the video here. If these guys are close, I’d prefer the better skater of the two, so put me down for Dobson.

  • kermit

    It sounds like Bouchard excels at passing and has the big point shot. He would be a great powerplay quarterback. The defenders will have to play high to take away his shot and it will open up ice for Boeser or Petterssen.

  • Rodeobill

    Either of these guys seem like a good bet at 7, and I would be happy with that. Seems to me (from your well done article) that a bet on Bouchard would be he works on his skating like a mofo, but all else is excellent. Even his defensive deficiencies seem to stem from this and his crazy minutes he needed to play. Average mobility, excellent instincts and puckwork. With Dobson, you would be hoping his offensive instincts take that next step and go from above average to excellent. I wonder if all facets should be not weighted the same in judging, but even then the two things you want most to see in a D prospect (defending and scoring) seem to show they are both good at one and excellent at the other. On the one hand, speed is gold in today’s game, and Dob’s got that in spades, but then so is puck movement and hockey IQ, and Bouch has that in spades. I can only imagine JB hopes one is gone by 7 and the “better” one falls to us so he doesn’t have to bear that cross as well.

    I can’t see either one being a bust, and would be happy with either one, but I hope JB and crew have as good an eye for D prospects as they do for forwards and can use the dowsing rod to figue out which one is better.

  • truthseeker

    Offensive potential for me. I’m tired of the lack of scoring from the back end of the canucks. Bouchard’s got the numbers in such a huge way, it’s what sets him apart for me.

    Again though…for the millionth time…I’ll be happy with either of them.

    • Puck Viking

      One thing to remember is Dobson was given the same oppurtunties as bouchard. Dobson has been used primarily as a shutdown guy and is the best defense first dman in the draft. I agree though give me either.

  • Rodeobill

    I wonder how much the QoC should be considered between these two as well, the Q is supposed to be a much easier league than the CHL, I really don’t know. But if it does have that much disparity, one would have to give a little bump to Bouchard in that light. Not that Dobson ISN’T there but rather Bouchard has already more than acquitted/proven himself in a more difficult league, outstandingly so, and without help of all the star teammates that got traded off the team early that season.

    • truthseeker

      That maybe true, but the counter to that might be the results in the memorial cup tourney. He showed he can get it done when it mattered against the toughest competition. I tend personally to lean on the side of putting less importance on tournament results though, because you never know if a guy just went on a good run for a short period.

  • Jabs

    Bouchard seems like he will pay dividends sooner than Dobson but in the long run I think Dobson is the better player.

    Both guys seem like winners and show up for the big games so I really have no preference.

  • The Canucks are a winner with either player but the absence of any obvious weaknesses, above-average skillset, and room to add lots of muscle makes Dobson the better player overall. But if we got Bouchard, I could see him in a Canucks uniform sooner and being really effective on the PP with Boeser, Pettersson, and Horvat.

  • TD

    The vision and hockey IQ of Bouchard is undervalued as a skill. It is referred to and recognized, but the analysis seems to always value skating and dynamic play over hockey IQ. I hope Virtanen will continue to improve, but he is a great example of the value of hockey IQ over the physical tools.

    Any of the physical tools can be improved. I think Horvat is more of an exception than the rule regarding his improved skating, but through practice and fitness, most of the physical skills can be improved to some degree. That does not seem to be the case with hockey IQ and vision. That is a skill that comes from the way a player processes the game in his brain and only minor improvements seem available in this area.

    Vegas had a fast skating team, but what they did very well is play fast. The players broke early anticipating the play, they moved the puck quickly and then moved their feet to catch up. They were not a team that had players make end to end rushes. Instead they attacked as a team in waves with the puck moving way faster than any player can skate. Teams can only play that way if their players have good vision and hockey IQ. I think Bouchard has one of the highest hockey IQ’s and vision in this draft. It’s what has led him to get so many points.

    I was a Bouchard fan, but have been leaning towards Dobson over the past week along with the rest of the hockey world it seems. I think either will be a great pick.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Thats a good sign. Bouchard looked great in Junior.
      His skating transition needs some work. (going fwd to back, turning side to side). I can see him being beat wide by many of todays NHL fast skating forwards. (no warm fuzzy feeling for Bouchard, from me).
      Jim Benning has done a great job drafting the last 3 years.
      I’m sure he will make an excellent choice.

  • DogBreath

    Remember the endless debate about tanking? The lack of agreement from the experts on picks 3 to about 11 kills the argument to tank. This year you’re probably getting about as good a player if you’d finished 19 vs 29. However from a culture and credibility perspective, finishing 29th is much worse than just outside the playoffs.