The Edmonton Oilers have decided that if Evan Bouchard isn’t going to play every night in the NHL, he might as well continue his development back in junior. The team, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, has returned Bouchard to the OHL’s London Knights for the remainder of the season. Bouchard played just seven games in the NHL this year, meaning he will not burn the first year of his entry-level contract. He will however instantly become a favorite to lead Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, and will help elevate London to a Memorial Cup contender once again. The team has recalled Kevin Gravel from the minor leagues to take Bouchard’s roster spot.
Similarly, the Ottawa Senators decided last night that Alex Formenton would be better served playing this season in junior as well. Amazingly he’s also returning to London in the OHL for the rest of the year, and should immediately become a dangerous offensive weapon for the team. Formenton played nine games with the Senators, meaning he too will not burn the first year of his entry-level contract.
While both Edmonton and Ottawa will lose some of their young depth, this is huge news for the Knights and Team Canada. Formenton was already a dominant presence at the World Junior tournament a year ago given his outstanding speed and surprising grit, and could potentially lead the team in scoring if given the chance. Bouchard meanwhile already showed that he can be the most dominant defenseman in the OHL, and now returns to a team that already has fellow high draft pick Adam Boqvist competing at a high level. Though NHL action is certainly in the future for both players, they’ll have to settle for winning at the junior and international levels for now.