The defenceman saw his role increase in last year’s playoffs, earning him a two-year, $7.8 million contract extension with a $3.9 million average annual cap hit.
The Edmonton Oilers announced a contract extension for 23-year old defenceman Evan Bouchard on August 24th after a rather impressive outing in the playoffs last season. Bouchard put up 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists) in 12 playoff games and saw his minutes increase to a career-high of 23:00 per game, which is generally the playing time of a top-pairing defenceman, as he settled into a larger role on the blueline. It’s a nice little bridge deal for the player the team drafted 10th overall in the 2018 draft.
In fact, it follows the trend of bridge deals signed by young defencemen similar to Bouchard’s age just this summer. K’Andre Miller, 23, signed a nearly identical two-year, $3.872 million AAV contract with the New York Rangers after putting up 43 points last year. Ditto 22-year old Bowen Byram, who signed a two-year, $3.85 million AAV contract with the Colorado Avalanche after scoring 24 points last year.
Guess the race is on to see which of these three will sign the big contract first. Undoubtedly, each of those player’s agents was side-eyeing the contract signed by Jake Sanderson with the Ottawa Senators that saw him net an eight-year, $8.05 million contract extension. That seems to have set the market rate for young defencemen with offensive upside.
Bouchard will have two years to prove to the Oilers if he’s worth that kind of investment. If the end of his season is any indication, he will be.
After Tyson Barrie was shipped out at the trade deadline, Bouchard saw his time on ice increase. He started playing top-pairing minutes and became a staple on the backend of the hottest power play in the league. That elevated role play paid off brilliantly, with Bouchard scoring at a scorching pace at the end of the season: 9 goals and 36 points in the last 33 games after the trade deadline.
If that’s what the Oilers get in a full season with Bouchard, he’s going to get paid on that next contract.