Evan Bouchard has been on an offensive tear of late for the Edmonton Oilers, with the NHLPA acknowledging as such with their weekly player award.
The talent of Evan Bouchard has never been in doubt. It’s why the Oilers selected him in the first place, with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft.
However, Bouchard would be the first to acknowledge he hasn’t developed as much, or as quickly as he should have done. Finally though, it seems to be coming together, particularly in terms of his offensive ability.
The 24-year-old has been on quite a streak recently, increasingly making his presence felt at the opposing end of the ice. The NHLPA have noticed as such, naming him Player of the Week on Friday, for the period between Dec. 8-14.
The NHLPA referenced Bouchard extending his points streak to 13 games. He also led all defencemen with three goals and eight overall points during the period in question.
Comparisons with Coffey
The right-shot defenceman is alongside Paul Coffey as the only two defencemen in Oilers history to have 10-game points streaks. Coffey achieved this nine times during his playing career.
Prior to Thursday’s game versus the Lightning, Bouchard was asked about his relationship with the Oilers legend and how it has helped him. Speaking to the media, he said:
"“The relationship with Paul’s great. He’s been helping me out since I first got drafted here, but behind the bench he’s very positive, harping on every single one of us on the back end making plays. I think it’s given us a lot more confidence to do that, and I think it’s working out for us.”"
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Coffey also has the NHL all-time record of 28 consecutive games with a point by a defenceman. A more realistic target for Bouchard might be second place, with Ray Bourque going 19 straight games with a point.
Regardless, Bouchard is showing what he’s capable of, especially with one of the most ferocious shots in the game. For the season as a whole he’s third on the Oilers with 32 total points (eight goals and 24 assists), while also being third among all NHL defencemen.
Understandably, there are still concerns about the Oakville, Ontario native’s defensive play, although he has radically cut down on his mistakes from earlier in the season. Certainly it helps playing alongside the experienced Mattias Ekholm, who is similarly over his rough start to the 2023-24 campaign.
Overall though, Bouchard has been a key component of the Oilers turning things around, after one of the worst starts to a season in team history. He’s more confident and feels less burdened, he’s playing more minutes, is regularly involved on the power play, which makes the team’s offence even more dangerous.