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DRAFT: Oilers obtain their coveted defenceman

Oilers 10th-overall selection Evan Bouchard is the right-shot, offensive defenceman the club has been looking for

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

DALLAS, TX - You've probably heard by now.

The talk of Oilers 10th-overall selection Evan Bouchard's draft year production and how it compares to the numbers some of the best defencemen in the National Hockey League put up when they played junior. Players including Los Angeles Kings stalwart Drew Doughty, who had 79 as a 16-year-old and 59 when he was 17. More than St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (62) and Florida Panthers backbone Aaron Ekblad (59).

Bouchard recorded 92 points in 71 total games in the 2017-18 season, blowing many others out the water with a 1.30 point per game average. 

Well, if you don't know, now you know.

Video: DRAFT | Bouchard Behind The Scenes

 

You should also know it's one of the major reasons why Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli called Bouchard's name with the Oilers first pick in 2018. The defender's skill set - a highly offensive, high-shooting, high IQ right-shot rearguard - couldn't be denied by the Oilers brass, who considered themselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to draft him when he didn't end up going before pick No. 10.

"He had a terrific year and he's got a bomb of a shot," said Chiarelli after the first round concluded. "He's physically big, he's got a very good shot, he's a terrific passer, his hockey sense is terrific. 

"We had him really high."

Evidently, for good reason. Bouchard's welcome to the Oilers comes after endless scuttlebutt of the organization's need to acquire a playmaking, dynamic defenceman, capable of moving the puck quickly, one-timing it quicker and quarterbacking a power play. That coveted defenceman has finally been acquired.

"There was a need there and there was a lot of defencemen that were available throughout that first round," Chiarelli continued. "More than usual. I don't know why that is. He's one of the guys we coveted. 

"It's the age-old cliché: you're lucky he was there."

Video: 1-ON-1 | Evan Bouchard & Jessica Kent 

Put into perspective, Bouchard's production this past season is incredible. The London Knights chose to rebuild, trading many of their assets in an effort to look toward the future. But the Oakville, ON, product, who donned the 'C' on his sweater, didn't see things like that. He provided an uncanny attack from the blueline, leading his team in scoring by 30 points and amassing nine more than the next-best Ontario Hockey League defenceman. He led all Dmen in shots on goal with 297, which happened to be the second-most in the league. He also tied Kingston Frontenacs forward Jason Robertson for the most overtime goals with four.

This, again, all on a London Knights squad in the midst of a rebuild.

"It was different for me but it was a good experience," Bouchard, a soft-spoken individual, said. "A lot of people counted us out but we thought to ourselves, we have nothing to lose here."

Nothing to lose but so much to gain, personally, for the 18-year-old who has some believing he could walk the line for the Oilers as early as next year. No pressure, but Bouchard's game is something the Oilers have wanted to obtain for quite some time.

"He did a lot on that team with not much," said Chiarelli. "And he's been in that league three years now. He's a mature kid with a mature body… I know he wants to play in the League next year so we'll see."

Nothing but time can tell whether the Oilers newest member will be threading passes to captain Connor McDavid in 2018-19. 

But until then, Oilers fans will be hearing a lot more about Bouchard.

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