The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenseman Evan Bouchard to a two-year, $7.8-million contract extension, the team announced on Thursday.
The deal, which comes with a $3.9-million AAV, locks up Edmonton's final remaining restricted free agent heading into camp. The club is now approximately $400,000 over the salary cap, meaning it likely has at least one more move to make in order to be compliant by the start of the season.
Bouchard, 23, had a strong sophomore season with the Oilers after a breakout rookie year in 2021-22. Last season, Bouchard notched 40 points in 82 contests as one of just five Oilers skaters to play in every game.
The Oakville, Ontario native really took his game to another level last season, but especially excelled after being paired with trade-deadline acquisition Mattias Ekholm — posting 19 points in Edmonton's final 21 games, with strong underlying numbers to match.
Evan Bouchard, signed 2x$3.9M by EDM, is a puck-moving offensive defenceman. He possesses a well-rounded offensive skillset but he's especially great at passing both in transition and in the offensive zone. Plays aggressive rush defence which sometimes backfires. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/T5gr4wgAEY
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 23, 2023
He continued his torrid offensive output during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, adding 17 points in just 12 contests before the Oilers bowed out to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.
A significant part of Bouchard's late-season surge in productivity came from an elevated spot on the Oilers' historic powerplay. With offensive specialist Tyson Barrie heading the other way in the Ekholm deal, Bouchard took over duties on Edmonton's top unit and didn't look back. His booming shot, playmaking and vision from the point was a big reason why Edmonton finished the year with the highest powerplay percentage of all time, converting at a blistering 32.4%.
The Oilers will likely be walking a salary-cap tightrope by the time Bouchard's bridge deal expires in two year's time, with Leon Draisaitl's deal set to expire the same offseason and reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid slated, at least right now, to become an unrestricted free agent the following summer.