Connect with us

Edmonton Oilers

Mattias Ekholm Reveals Recipe for Bouchard’s 2023-24 Success

Mattias Ekholm talked about what it’s going to take for Evan Bouchard to have a really successful 2023-24 NHL season.

During a fantastic, in-depth interview with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Got Yer’ Back podcast host Ryan Rishaug opened up a conversation about Ekholm working alongside Evan Bouchard. The former Nashville Predators — who was acquired ahead of last season’s NHL Trade Deadline — was seen as somewhat of a mentor to Bouchard in 2022-23 and will get plenty of looks with him in 2023-24. Rishaug wanted to know how the veteran felt and feels about Bouchard’s game and working with the younger offensively gifted blueliner. Specifically, Rishaug wanted to know about Bouchard’s defensive potential.

One of the first things Ekholm did was make sure to clarify that Bouchard is a whiz offensively, but that’s not all he’s good at.

Related: Oilers’ Desharnais Found Inspiration From Fiery McDavid Exchange

“I’ve played with some guys that are high offensive guys. I think Evan is a high-end offensive guy, but I also think, for him, it’s more just staying with it.” He added, “I don’t think he was a liability at all when I played with him.”

Ekholm went on to describe Bouchard’s game saying he’s not the guy who will push people out of the crease area or blast a guy with a devastating hit, but “he’s so smart and he’s always in the right position, he’s knocking down a lot of pucks, he’s doing a good job defensively; he’s got a really good outlet pass and he’s a competitive guy…”

Ekholm said he understands the pressure that is on Bouchard as the high-end offensive guy and quarterback of the first-unit power play to think he has to score all the time and put up 80 points.

Evan Bouchard Mattias Ekholm Oilers
Evan Bouchard Mattias Ekholm Oilers

He explained:

“You don’t. Just do exactly what you did for the last 25 games you were here, you don’t need to do anything more. That’s gonna help this team a tremendous amount and, like we talked about, keep trying to play defense when the time comes because if you’re going to play over 23-24 minutes, you’re going to have to defend against anyone in this league. You just can’t play protected minutes for that much.”

Ekholm Seems to Be a Natural Leader

The fact that Ekholm knows what Bouchard is capable of offensively, but isn’t suggesting he go out and try to produce at a point-per-game pace might be key to consistently unlocking Bouchard’s potential as a well-rounded defenseman. While the Oilers will be counting on some point production from him, what they need are sound two-way blueliners who can keep the puck out of their own net as much as they can help score. Ekholm seems to think Bouchar has that kind of game in him.

It will be intriguing to see how much of Ekholm’s advice gets put into action this coming year.

Next: Pacific Division: Teams With the Biggest Unanswered Questions

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

More News