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Oilers’ Bouchard Extension Close, But with Contract Structure Twist

Edmonton Oilers’ Evan Bouchard’s contract extension seems imminent as negotiations edge closer, hinting at a potential twist.

Edmonton Oilers’ potential extension with Evan Bouchard appears to be taking shape, per Kurt Leavins, the team’s beat correspondent. Although nothing is finalized, both parties aim for an optimal deal as they progress in their negotiations. A deal might be imminent, contingent on addressing a minor contractual detail.

He writes in a recent “9 Things” column: “Nothing new yet on the Evan Bouchard deal. The chatter is that the two sides are “close”. While I still expect the AAV to come in at around $3.9m, I wonder if we might see a deal that escalates a little from Year 1 to Year 2?”

What Leavins is saying, while the extension’s specifics, including a two-year term and an anticipated average annual value (AAV) of approximately $3.9 million, seem relatively clear, the focal point of the negotiation involves the distribution of funds across the contract’s duration.

Bouchard Wants His Deal Front-Loaded as a Baseline

Speculation centers on Bouchard’s representation advocating for a front-loaded agreement, resulting in a higher payout for the contract’s second year. This strategic approach aims to trigger an elevated qualifying offer after the 2024-25 season. It makes sense considering he’ll be working off of that number as a minimum guarantee in future contract negotiations.

While Bouchard’s performance might outshine the bridge deal’s expectations — if he’s a 60-point defenseman running the Oilers’ power play for two seasons — this might be simply a formality. The idea here with these current negotiations is to get his cap hit as low as possible to work within the confines of a tight salary cap, but then sign him long-term when other contracts have been cleared off the books and the cap jumps. By then, Bouchard could easily be worth twice what he’ll get on this current deal.

Craig Button said that all Bouchard needs to do is keep working on his pace of play and if he keeps progressing alongside Mattias Ekholm, Bouchard could be a key piece of the Oilers blue line corps.

It’s The Smaller Details That Need to Be Ironed Out

Leavins underscores that there’s likely no worry here for Oilers fans that this could go sideways. The two sides are close and a deal will get done. It’s simply a matter of how that deal is structured.

While an AAV of around $3.9 million remains likely, this is about Bouchard covering himself in later years and the Oilers finding something that makes him whole, while still getting him at a number they can afford this season.

Next: Jets Trying to Keep Hellebuyck with Big-Money, Short-Term Deal

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