Now that the Ryan McLeod deal has been signed the Edmonton Oilers management team will move on to re-signing Evan Bouchard. There are a lot of factors in the Bouchard deal that need to be looked at, so this may not be as easy as we all think.
What Evan Bouchard Wants
Being a RFA with no arbitration rights Evan Bouchard really holds no power against the Edmonton Oilers. The only thing he can use against them is holding out and not playing games this season. They may help him get a better contract this season, but on his next contract, it may hurt him as he will be missing games.
My best guess is Evan Bouchard and his agent are looking at the cap space left after the McLeod deal and asking for every penny of room. That is around $4.3 million for this season. We can assume that this deal will be a bridge deal as if the Oilers want to sign him longer term it will cost more than the $4.3 million per season for that.
If Bouchard gets more than that amount the Edmonton Oilers will be forced to have a 21-man roster at the start of the season. This could be an issue cause if there is an injury or illness they would need to play with a short bench for those games.
What The Edmonton Oilers Want
The Edmonton Oilers hold most of the power in this negotiation. Just like last season where they were able to get Ryan McLeod to sign a cheap deal due to cap space, they are in the same position to do that again this year.
As I mentioned above if Bouchard gets paid what he would like the Edmonton Oilers would need to run a 21-man roster. This is why the Oilers are going to want to sign Bouchard for less than $3.5 million. If Evan Bouchard signs for that they have enough room to add a player that makes the league minimum.
Adding that player is important so they can always ice a full team this season. Small short-term injuries and illnesses pop up often throughout the long 82-game season. You don’t want to have to lean on players more than you have to. If you dress a full lineup every night then you don’t have to worry about overplaying a player which could then in turn lead to more injuries.
This contract while it isn’t life or death for the Edmonton Oilers will be important to how they could perform in the long run and in the playoffs. If you have a player playing an extra 1-2 minutes a night cause you are short benched that time adds up fast over a full season.
I can’t blame Bouchard for wanting to get as much money as he can, cause honestly I would want to get as much as I could as well. The problem is his maximizing his money may have a large effect on how the Edmonton Oilers play throughout the season/