The Edmonton Oilers may have a brand new, and very fresh, face on their roster this upcoming season.
The National Hockey League's preseason is already in full swing and as you would expect at this time of year scouts around the league are starting to report back to their respective organizations on what they have seen thus far. Sometimes however that information also gets relayed to the media and this just so happens to be one of these cases, and in this particular case the information is extremely relevant if you happen to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Oilers fans have not had a great deal to be excited about this summer, their team is coming off what can only be described as a catastrophic season and general manager Peter Chiarelli did very little to modify or improve his existing roster over the course of the offseason. What the Oilers did do however was participate in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and their top prospect coming away from that draft was unquestionably 18 year old defenseman Evan Bouchard, a prospect from the Ontario Hockey League.
Bouchard has spent the past three seasons of his young career as a member of the OHL's London Knights where he has shown giant leaps in performance from season to season. In the 2015 - 2016 regular season Bouchard only appeared in a total of 43 games and picked up just 2 goals while adding 15 assists for a total of 15 points that year. He saw a big jump in production the following season during the 2016 - 2017 campaign when he appeared in 68 games, that time recording 11 goals and 33 assists for a total of 44 points. The biggest jump however came in his most recent season where in 67 games with the London Knights he recorded a whopping 25 goals and 62 assists for a grand total of 87 points from the blue line.
It was that performance that truly put him on the radar of several NHL team's around the league and fortunately for the Oilers they were able to grab him with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Bouchard almost overnight became the Oilers most exciting future prospect but at hust 18 years of age many expected that the young man was still several years away from making his professional debut in the NHL, that however may prove to be entirely inaccurate.
A very surprising report from Edmonton Oilers insider Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now has now revealed that an NHL scout fully expects that Bouchard will not only make his debut much earlier than expected, but may in fact make his debut this very season.
"Bouchard is going to make the Oilers out of the gate," said the scout as per Stauffer. "He is their best puck-mover. Smart and poised when he has it.They are going to have to work with him on defending, but he flat out makes plays.."
Now there are obviously major concerns about rushing a young defenseman up to the NHL level and in fact some Oilers fans may feel like they are experiencing deja vu off the heals of this announcement. That being said though there is no doubting that Bouchard is in fact a play making type of defenseman, exactly the type of defenseman that Chiarelli was reportedly trying to acquire over the course of the summer. The Oilers were linked to trade talks around Boston Bruins' defenseman Torey Krug several times this summer and although that deal never materialized the Oilers' may now believe that they have a player in Bouchard who can fill a similar role.
Whether or not this scout turns out to be correct, and given Stauffer's connection to the Oilers he may very well have inside knowledge of the situation, remains to be seen however.