Edmonton Oilers, Evan Bouchard, Free Agents

Oilers: 3 Teams That Could Offer Sheet Evan Bouchard

The Edmonton Oilers still have some moves they need to make before the beginning of the 2023-24 season, and one of them is re-signing defenseman Evan Bouchard to a contract extension after the impressive offensive output he had last season. He is growing into a solid player who could become one of the Oilers’ top two defensemen for years to come. With that being said though, he still doesn’t have a contract and is sitting in free agency as a restricted free agent (RFA).

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THW’s own Jim Parsons mentions that the new bridge deals of K’Andre Miller and Bowen Byram will affect the new contract of Bouchard, and likely means a “fair deal” for him comes in around the $3.85 million per season mark. The Oilers are tight for money already without the re-signing of Ryan McLeod completed yet, and they are still looking to improve their bottom six before the season starts. He is an attractive young defenseman that could draw an offer sheet from a number of teams, and here are three prime candidates that could do so.

While Miller and Byram earned similar deals, if a team wants to offer sheet Bouchard and steal him from the Oilers, they’ll need to pay a bit more than market value and hope he grows into a player that performs above his contract. While $4.25 million a season might be a fair number for Bouchard for any team, the Oilers are so tight for money they may choose to accept the compensation and let him go to another team.

Buffalo Sabres

Projected Cap Space: $6,713,930

The Buffalo Sabres are close to being ready to contend for a Stanley Cup. While they aren’t a favorite by any means, they didn’t miss the playoffs by much last season and showed signs of being a strong playoff team. One weak spot they have is their depth up front and on the blue line. With their youthful roster, adding another young player with the potential to grow could be right up their alley.

Evan Bouchard Edmonton Oilers
Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Sabres offer Bouchard a two-year deal worth $4.25 million a season, they would force the Oilers’ hand. Bouchard will need to take a pay-cut bridge deal in order to stay with the Oilers, but if a team like the Sabres outbid the Oilers and offered him more than what they could give him, he may be inclined to accept it.

If the Oilers see that Bouchard accepted the deal, they could take the second-round pick of compensation and attempt to move it in exchange for a cheaper defenseman, or an improvement up front in the bottom six.

Bouchard would slot into the second pairing with the Sabres, likely playing alongside Owen Power or Mattias Samuelsson but not ahead of Rasmus Dahlin on the right side of their blue line.

Seattle Kraken

Projected Cap Space: $9,068,424

The Seattle Kraken are another team that is ready to compete for a Stanley Cup, and will likely make it back to the playoffs for a second straight season. They aren’t favorites by any means heading into the 2023-24 season, but they have been making some additions to strengthen their current team while setting themselves up for success in the future. While they have a strong lineup heading into the new year, Bouchard would be an upgrade on the right side of their blue line.

Mattias Ekholm Evan Bouchard Edmonton Oilers
Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Bouchard would slot into the second pairing with the Kraken. The Kraken also have the money and assets to offer a two-year contract worth $4.25 million to Bouchard in order to try and pull him away from the Oilers.

Chicago Blackhawks

Projected Cap Space: $17,965,170

The Chicago Blackhawks will not be contending in the 2023-24 season. They recently selected phenom Connor Bedard first overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and have been active during free agency. They brought in Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno from the Boston Bruins, acquired the rights to Corey Perry and re-signed him, and re-signed Andreas Athanasiou to help make their team slightly more competitive, and hopefully not be a dead-last team.

The Blackhawks’ defenders are not strong. If they see an opportunity to snatch up someone that could be their future top-pairing defenseman for a cheaper price tag than what a player of his caliber normally is on the trade or free agent market, why wouldn’t they throw some money at him?

They have the picks to make it work and while it’s more of a long shot for the Blackhawks, they could offer Bouchard a one-year, $4.29 million contract so they have to give the Oilers a second-round pick, but it likely prices him out of Edmonton.

What’s Next For Bouchard?

Bouchard and the Oilers will be looking to make something work. There is nothing suggesting they should be worried about an offer sheet as Bouchard hasn’t shown signs of wanting to leave, but there’s always the chance a team takes a swing and tries anyway. I think he ends up signing a one or two-year contract worth around $3.25-3.75 million a season with whoever he signs with. He will get a bridge deal that sets him up for a long-term extension once it is up, and he’s shown he can play as a number-one defenseman.

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