Evan Bouchard was not active on the international hockey stage this summer. So, while Rasmus Dahlin and Adam Boqvist made their names known to the world and rocketed to the top of everyone’s draft board, Evan Bouchard’s draft stock sat stagnant. So stagnant that some projections have pushed him out of the first round. Now, do not get me wrong, it is an exciting crop of young defenders for 2018. But I refuse to believe this kid is not top 15 and MAYBE even top 10 talent. That’s right, I’m going there. It’s October of 2017, the draft is over 9 months away and I’m telling you, right here, right now, that this kid is a future NHL stud.
Bouchard checks in at 6’2 and 181 pounds. At 18 he already sports more facial hair than a lot of NHL rookies. His build makes him seem massive against similarly aged competition. The thought that he could get even bigger with an NHL training regiment is tantalizing. So right off the bat, he’s got the size you look for in a top pairing NHL guy with the potential to get bulkier. He is a right-handed shot with a good release. That release saw him pot 11 goals through 68 games last season. His release also opportunities for rebounds and deflections as his 33 assists can attest to. But Bouchard is not limited to scoring from the point. He has the speed to join the rush and the skill to stick-handle in tight. Evan seems as at home in the offensive zone as he is in the defensive zone.
In the back-end he’s a smart physical defender. He understands the concept of making quick, decisive plays with the puck in your own zone as well as establishing body position on attacking forwards. He uses his superior skating talents to cut off lanes and eliminate scoring chances before they even develop. Sometimes it even seems like he knows where his opposition is going before the opposition has figured it out. His movements on the ice show a strong hockey IQ and a guy who thinks the game a step faster than he plays it. A lot is made of hockey IQ and for good reason.
London has gotten off to a rough start this season. This could hurt his draft stock further. However, Evan has been a bright spot for them. Bouchard has 2 goals and 7 assist through 11 games at the time of publication. On October 18, Adam Kimelman of NHL.com announced that Bouchard had been selected to play in BOTH games for the OHL in the 2017 Canada/Russia Series. He is the ONLY 2018 draft eligible prospect that will play both games. A good showing at the series could be the ticket to get Bouchard back in the 2018 draft conversation. Right now, young, top pairing capable, right-handed defenders are one of the single most sought after positions in the NHL. Because of this, Evan Bouchard should gradually climb up the draft board of many NHL franchise as the season progresses.
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