Tag: EvanBouchard

Nice of You All to Join Me (Evan Bouchard edition)

In a followup to my article about Bouchard from October.

I’m seeing Bouchard in the top 15 in projections where he always belonged.  Nice of you all to join me on this one.

As the Knights have gotten SOME players back from the NHL, Bouchard has kept up his stellar play and with a supporting cast in front of him, his point total has ballooned to 46 points over 37 games.  He averages 0.89 assists per game and is the de facto leader for the Knights as they have clawed their way back into the 4th spot in the western conference after a DISMAL 1-6 start.

Bouchard’s leadership and talent are going to make him a future stud defenseman in the NHL, there’s no doubt in my mind.  Why it took until December/January for people to get on this wagon is beyond me.

Evan Bouchard is the Best Defensive Prospect That You Are Ignoring.

Evan Bouchard is the Best Defensive Prospect That You Are Ignoring.


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 shoots
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.

London is Burning

This is not how it was supposed to be this year for the London Knights.  In their first 7 games this season they have 1 win and 6 regulation losses.  They’re averaging a league worst 1.85 goals per game while allowing an abysmal 4.43 goals against.  Across their 7 games played they have a negative 18 goal differential.  How could this happen to a team with such high expectations going into the season?

Things were supposed to be different.  There was supposed to be a surplus of NHL drafted talent on the team this year.  J.J. Piccinich was supposed to be the only loss and the Knights had more than made up for this by obtaining Jesper Bratt in the CHL Import draft this year.  Bratt was to join a talented group of 19 year olds that included Alex Formenton, Brandon Crawley, Robert Thomas, Sam Miletic, Janne Kuokkanen, Victor Mete, Max Jones, Cliff Pu and Olli Juolevi.  Goaltender Jordan Kooy had seemed a reasonable replacement to Tyler Parsons if he decided not to come back for his 4th season of OHL eligibility.  This has all come undone.

Cliff Pu, Robert Thomas, Sam Miletic and Max Jones have all made their way to London after time in NHL camps.  Everyone else… not so much.

The Vancouver Canucks have decided that rather than send Juolevi back to London for another year, that they would like him to play in Finland with the TPS squad of SM-Liiga.  This is probably not a bad move for the young defender as TPS boasts one of the great defensive mentors in NHL history, Henrik Tallinder, on its roster.   The Canucks obviously want Juolevi playing at a professional level against older competition, but do not feel they want him in their NHL or AHL system at the moment.  This does not do London any favors.

Victor Mete has caught on with the Montreal Canadiens.  Injuries during training camp/preseason opened a door for Mete and he has seized the day.  It’s possible that when David Schlemko returns from injury, Mete will be returned to London.  It’s also possible that Montreal may keep him.  The Canadiens have started the season off very poorly in their own end and Mete has seen his minutes steadily increase, including some Power Play time.  At first it seemed Mete was only keeping a spot warm, but his growing usage could make him indispensible to a struggling Montreal team.

alex formenten
The 2017 49th overall pick is still with the Ottawa Senators after training camp.  Formenten was used very sparingly in his only NHL game, getting only 4:54 of playing time.  It seems likely that Ottawa will send Alex back to London after his 9 game NHL exposure is exhausted.  It’s possible that this time among the pros could spur Alex forward as it often does for young players.  It would be nice to see him get a few more minutes though.

brandon crawley
Crawley made a huge impression with the Rangers in preseason.  Enough so that they’ve decided to keep the 2017, 123rd pick overall within close arm’s reach.  Crawley has been sent down to the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.  The Wolf Pack are lacking in young back-end talent so it seems likely that the Rangers will be keeping Crawley in the AHL.

Kuokkanen is another NHL rookie getting to stretch his legs on NHL ice.  The Carolina Hurricanes have made use of Kuokkanen in a top 6 role throughout pre-season and, so far, have used him in a bottom 6 role in their 2 games this season.  Kuokkanen seems to be doing well with his opportunity, so far.  Carolina may decide to keep the young Finn on the roster if he continues to show poise.  It’s also possible that, depending on injuries, Carolina elects to keep Kuokkanen beyond the 9 game threshold but not the half season threshold.  His impact and usage through their next few games will help determine where Janne ends up this year.

New Jersey Devils v Buffalo Sabres
Jesper Bratt is unlikely to be seen in London, ever.  After an impressive training camp, and equally impressive preseason, Bratt has carried everything over into the NHL regular season.  In 2 games with the NJ Devils, the 2016 6th round pick has compiled 3 goals and 2 assists for a team leading 5 points and +4 rating.  Bratt has been used in all situations, compiling a large number of Power Play AND Short Handed minutes for the Devils.  In his first 2 games he has averaged 16:37 minutes of ice time, good enough for 4th among Devils forwards.  It’s the first week of the NHL season and Jesper Bratt has already stolen the spotlight on a team that includes the 2017 Hobey Baker Winner (Will Butcher) and the 2017 First Overall Pick (Nico Hischier).  The hype will inevitably die down and the point scoring will level out, but the damage is already done.  Bratt has made a name for himself in New Jersey.

So, with all this, a team that looked to be a potential powerhouse for the 2017-2018 OHL Season instead sees a large chunk of its firepower currently in the NHL or elsewhere.  To make matters worse, the Knights have not been able to provide much help to their goaltenders.  Both Kooy and Johnson have started the seasons with goals against average in excess of 4.00 and save percentages well below .900.  This coupled with an inability to generate offense is likely make it difficult for London to make any headway in the standings.  If Mete and Formenten are returned to the OHL after their NHL stints it would go a long way for this franchise.  It is still possible for London to turn their season around, but they’ve started off with a pretty big hole to climb out of.