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Not Out of “Realm of Possibility” Oilers Trade Evan Bouchard

One NHL insider says that the Edmonton Oilers could trade Evan Bouchard if a bridge deal can’t be worked out.

As far-fetched as it might sound for the Edmonton Oilers to trade the defenseman they just gave the ball to when the team traded Tyson Barrie, NHL insider Frank Seravalli notes: “It is not out of the realm of possibility that you could see Bouchard traded this summer.” He adds, “I don’t think it is something the Oilers want to do; however, they are dealing with a tight salary cap.”

The reason Seravalli is suggesting such a crazy idea is that Bouchard is a pending restricted free agent this summer, the Oilers would reportedly prefer to offer him a bridge deal, but the defenseman apparently already turned one down and decided to bet on himself, hoping for a long-term contract extension.

Bouchard is certainly a player the Oilers want to keep in the fold. He played extremely well as a rookie for them last season and while he started slowly in 2022/23, he’s come on strong since the trade deadline that saw the Oilers move Barrie to Nashville and bring in Mattias Ekholm. The Oilers are 16-2-1 since the trade and Bouchard has been a key part of their recent success, scoring the overtime winner as an example in Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

The issue for the Oilers is money. It would be great if they could offer him eight years and $6 million per season, but they don’t exactly have a ton of room on their salary cap. With a number of unrestricted free agents and two other pending RFAs in Ryan McLeod and Klim Kostin, the Oilers also have to ensure they have the contract space to talk deals with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in two and three years time respectively.

The issue for Edmonton and a bridge deal is that the path that saw Darnell Nurse earn $9.5 million on a long-term deal could potentially play itself out again. Nurse was bridged twice by the Oilers and by the time he came due for another contract, defensemen all over the NHL who were in the same ballpark as Nurse were getting $9 million or more per season. The Oilers lost most of their leverage to get a better deal. The Oilers would prefer to avoid that same situation with Bouchard, but if he explodes as a blueliner over the next two seasons, he’ll become quite expensive to keep around at a time when the Oilers will have to make some difficult decisions.

Still, Edmonton is likely to do whatever it needs to in order to keep Bouchard on the team. That could mean moving other pieces and saying goodbye to names like Cody Ceci or Brett Kulak instead.

Next: Blackhawks Announce They Are Cutting Ties With Jonathan Toews

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