Evan Bouchard this season has emerged as a top offensive option for the Oilers, however his defensive game has lacked leading to some harsh criticisms. Personally I see see shades of another Oilers offensive defensemen, Oscar Klefbom who hasn’t played since the 2019/20 season due to a shoulder injury. Now I have been told this comparison is unrealistic and wrong but lets look at the numbers:
I’m going to compare both players best years, For Klefbom the 2016/17 season and for Bouchard the 2021/22 season, which happens to be both players first full season and first post season appearance.
In the 2016/17 season, Klefbom scored 12 goals and added 26 assists in 82 games with a +7 rating. That season Klefbom led all Oilers defensemen in scoring with his 38 points, 16 of those on the Oilers top power play unit (3G, 13A). An interesting stat I saw while looking at Klefbom’s 2016/17 season was his shots through percentage, which sits at just 36.9% on the power play. Klefbom faced his first playoff action that season, putting up just 5 points in the 12 game span.
This season Bouchard has scored 12 goals and has 31 assists in 81 games with a +10 rating. Bouchard led all Oilers defensemen in points this season with 43 points, with only 7 power play points quarterbacking the Oilers second unit (2G, 5A). Bouchard has had 58.1% of his shots on the power play reach the net, heavily passing Klefbom in that category. Bouchard is off to a hot start in this year’s playoffs, already matching Klefbom’s 5 points in just 4 games.
Losing Klefbom severely affected the Oilers power play, with his departure erasing the point shot threat that he brought because of his booming shot. That booming shot allowed for the cross ice seam to open up where McDavid and Draisaitl work their magic. Bouchard’s shot shares similar characteristics, causing the defense to respect the shot, which in turn opens up the cross ice seam which has recently begun to disappear for the team’s power play. Bouchard and Klefbom have eerily similar stats at a very similar point in their careers and with only time for Bouchard’s defense to grow, I cannot see how Bouchard becomes anything less than what Oscar Klefbom was for this team considering how he is already at the same level as Klefbom was.