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When Olli Juolevi went to play pro hockey in Finland, and Victor Mete made the Montreal Canadiens out of training camp, suddenly Evan Bouchard found himself thrust into the role of the number one defenceman for the London Knights. While it was an unexpected position for Bouchard, it was one in which he thrived, putting together a huge offensive season and quickly rising up draft boards.
Bouchard started slowly but really came on strong at the start of November and never slowed down. He finished the season with 25 goals and 87 points in just 67 games for the rebuilding Knights team. Bouchard also picked up a goal and five points in four playoff games, but the Knights were swept by the Owen Sound Attack.
Bouchard has not seen a ton of action at the international level, but he did win a gold medal playing with Team Canada White in 2016. He put up a goal and six points in six games in the tournament and was named to the tournament all-star team. He also won a Memorial Cup with London that year but did not see big minutes as a 16-year-old rookie.
Evan Bouchard Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born October 20th, 1999 — Oakville, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 192 lbs [188 cm / 87 kg]
Bouchard has decent speed when he gets going, but needs to work on his first step and acceleration. He has to work on his agility, and footwork. It is pretty good going forward, and he can walk the line to open up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone. However, it can be an issue in his own end. Bouchard does have good balance. He is strong on the puck and wins battles on the boards.
Bouchard has an absolute bomb of a slap shot. His slap shot and one-timer are already NHL calibre. He also has an outstanding wrist and snapshot. Bouchard has a real knack for getting his shot on net, despite heavy traffic. He is poised with the puck on his stick and makes subtle moves to open up passing and shooting games. Bouchard also understands how to keep the puck low, allowing teammates to get deflections, tip-ins, and rebounds.
He has also really improved his passing this season. Bouchard is far more accurate and consistent than last season. He can quarterback the play from the point, and can also lead the rush. He has very good vision and anticipates the developing play. Bouchard finds open teammates and makes smart plays with the puck, especially in transition.
Bouchard is willing to play a physical game on the defensive end of the ice. He uses his size and his reach to keep attackers to the outside and away from the danger areas of the ice. He needs to work on his defensive instincts and positioning though. He can have a tendency to chase the puck and get himself out of position. Bouchard also needs to continue to work on his footwork. He can sometimes get beat by quick and agile forwards in one-on-one situations.
Projection and Comparison
Bouchard could become a top defenceman at the next level, however, it is more likely that with his defensive issues, he is more of a second pair player. He can be a real threat on the power play though, and should be able to put up points if he properly develops. In terms of style, Bouchard’s game is reminiscent of Brent Burns. This is a style comparison only, not one based on talent level.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Bouchard that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
OTTAWA, ON – MARCH 04: London Knights Defenceman Evan Bouchard (2) follows through on a shot during Ontario Hockey League action between the London Knights and Ottawa 67’s on March 4, 2018, at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)