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Bowen Byram’s Deal Sets the Bar for Evan Bouchard’s Bridge Contract

Bowen Byram’s recent contract deal raises expectations and implications for Evan Bouchard’s upcoming negotiations

The Edmonton Oilers are facing a crucial task this summer: securing Evan Bouchard’s next contract. He’s an incredibly important piece to their overall offense, specifically their power play, and the defenseman is eligible to sign an offer sheet, making it essential for the Oilers to finalize a deal before the end of the month. Given Edmonton’s salary cap situation, most insiders suggest believe his next deal will be a bridge and it appears unlikely that Bouchard will sign for more than two years.

AFP Analytics projects a $3.68 million cap hit for Bouchard on a two-year contract. Such an agreement would grant the Oilers’ management greater flexibility in filling out their roster during the offseason. However, a recent signing that can be a comparable for Bouchard might project that $3.68 number to be a little low. That player is Bowen Byram and he just signed a two-year bridge deal with the Colorado Avalanche at a cost of $7.7 million ($3.85 million per season).

Evan Bouchard Bowen Byram Oilers bridge deal
Evan Bouchard Bowen Byram Oilers bridge deal

Although the Oilers would prefer a long-term deal with Bouchard, their current cap constraints present a challenge. Consequently, the expectation of a bridge contract is not surprising given the circumstances. When negotiating bridge deals, comparables are often used and Byram is pretty close. Kurt Leavins of The Edmonton Journal notes that while Byram is a talented player, his injury history creates some uncertainty. On the other hand, Bouchard has been more consistent and productive. He notes that it is difficult to envision the contract coming in at less than a $3.9 million average annual value (AAV).

Meanwhile, Frank Seravalli noted that Byram’s contract with the Colorado Avalanche does not necessarily save money for the Oilers. Bouchard has had an impressive career with 184 games played, amassing 89 points, while averaging 18 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time.

During the 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman, a prominent NHL insider, reported that Bouchard’s next contract could be a two-year deal with a cap hit ranging between $3.5 million and $4 million.

Bouchard Is Going To Get Done, It’s Just a Matter Of How Much

The good news is, most insiders have the defenseman pegged around the same number, meaning the Oilers can feel secure in knowing this won’t cost more than about $4 million to get done. The bad news is, there’s likely no “cheap” bridge deal coming for the player. The Oilers will have to allocate between $3.5 and $4 million for Bouchard’s deal and leave another $1 – $2 for Ryan McLeod.

Bouchard’s performance during the 2022-23 regular season and playoffs further highlights his value. He notched eight goals and 40 points in the regular season, but truly shone in the postseason, leading all NHL defensemen with four goals and 17 points in 12 games. Securing Bouchard’s contract will be a crucial step for the Oilers as they plan their roster for the upcoming season.

Next: Devils Dropping Out of Hellebuyck Race, Eye John Gibson in Goal



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