The Edmonton Oilers have recalled top prospect Evan Bouchard from the AHL, as they deal with the injury to Oscar Klefbom. Markus Granlund has been assigned to the Bakersfield Condors, while Klefbom moves to injured reserve.
In 50 games this season with Bakersfield, Bouchard has recorded seven goals and 33 points, easily leading all defenders and trailing only Josh Currie and Tyler Benson for the team scoring lead. The 20-year old defenseman was selected 10th overall by the Oilers in 2018 and played seven NHL contests with them last season before returning to the London Knights of the OHL.
A two-way horse that regularly logged more than 30 minutes in a single game while in junior, the 6’3″ Bouchard’s real upside is in his offensive ability. Though he doesn’t have the same skating ability or puck skills of some other top rookie defensemen like Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes, his quick decision making and precision passing (even at great distances) can create countless chances for his teammates. His shot has also always been a weapon, including getting him to a 25-goal season in his draft year.
Klefbom is dealing with an injury that will keep him out a few weeks, meaning Bouchard may get a chance to show what he can do at the NHL level. The question is how many games will he get, as his contract is still slide-eligible. That means if Bouchard plays in fewer than ten games with the Oilers down the stretch his entry-level contract would still not kick in until next season, giving Edmonton another cheap year. Of course, many teams look much more closely at the 40-game threshold that would move a player one year closer to unrestricted free agency, something that Bouchard can no longer hit this season.