TEAM: London Knights
CSS RANKING: 4th among NA Skaters
Video: Evan Bouchard on leadership qualities
"Vision, puck movement, as well as shot."
Evan Bouchard named those as three strengths of his game, but perhaps he should have included "leadership" as an honorable mention.
As captain for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, Bouchard helped steer his team through a tumultuous period, in which a series of trades changed the look of the roster.
"It was different," said Bouchard. "It was kind of like playing on two different teams. I think I handled it pretty well. I think the players that the coaching staff and everyone brought in are very skilled so they did a good job in recruiting players."
Despite the roster shakeup, Bouchard's play stayed at a high level. The defender finished 2017-18 with 87 points (25G, 62A), showing off his superb offensive skill set and his ability to lead a team with his play.
"As a leader I just think just trying to lead by example on the ice, especially with the young guys and the new guys coming in I think you've got to make sure they know London has a winning mentality," he said. "Once you have that in your head and once you understand the coaching staff and stuff like that it will be good."
Defensemen traditionally need more development time before making the jump to the NHL, but Bouchard has good size and enough skill to give himself a chance.
"For me, I think it's next season," he said. "I know it's a big jump and it's a big step. I'm really working hard this summer to be ready for next season, taking it one step at a time. The main goal is to focus on getting ready for main camp and turning heads there and going from there."
Bouchard says speed and strength are two areas of focus for him this summer.
While he's certainly in consideration to be the second of his position taken off the board following Rasmus Dahlin, that distinction doesn't mean much to Bouchard.
"It would be exciting for that to happen, but in the end it doesn't really matter what number you get called. The real work starts after that. It would be an honor to hear my name whenever."
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a consistent threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive defensemen in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play." - Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr