When one watches the London Knights play, eyes are immediately drawn to one player.
Captain Evan Bouchard.
Bouchard, 10th in Future Considerations’ Winter ranking for the 2018 NHL Draft, has been providing the offensive push for the Knights — as a defenseman.
“His draft stock has been rising continuously through the season due to the consistency and rate at which he is producing and carrying a London Knights team that sold off their top players at the deadline,” Future Considerations scout Dylan Galloway said.
Bouchard possesses every tool that NHL scouts would look for.
He’s got the stature at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds.
He excels in the offensive zone and can defend against the best the Ontario Hockey League has to offer.
On top of that, Bouchard plays in all situations for London.
His development should come as no surprise. The Oakville, ON. native learned to dominate offensively at a young age.
In 2014-15 he played for the Oakville Rangers AAA Minor Midget team and put up 18 goals and 13 assists in 35 games. As an OHL rookie a season later, Bouchard appeared in 43 games and managed two goals and 15 assists for 17 points.
His second year with the Knights showed another level of comfort.
In 2016-17, Bouchard managed 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points in just 68 games, and he pushed his plus/minus up to an impressive plus-30 rating.
Now in his third season, Bouchard has taken full control in London.
The defender has been a force all year long, recording career-bests in goals (22), assists (56) and points (78) in 61 games played. His 78 points are 22 more than Sam Miletic, who is second in team scoring, and only Alex Formenton, at 23, has more goals.
With numbers like his, it’s no surprise that London relies on Bouchard.
“Bouchard is a full package type of defender, elite smarts that leads to being an incredible passer, high-end PP QB, but also solid in his own zone,” Galloway said.
If Bouchard continues to play at the elite level for the Knights, the sky is the limit in terms of his draft day.
Galloway, naturally, likes the potential in Bouchard.
“He definitely projects to be an NHL d-man, to me he’s projecting as a top-4,” he said. “His solid skating, elite smarts, willingness to jump up and help create offence, while also being defensively responsible give him the tools to be a high-end player in the NHL.”
If an NHL team is picking in the opening half of the first round and is seeking a top-tier defender who can produce from the blue line, it’d be wise to have the defensively-responsible Bouchard high on their board.
That’s what he’s trending to be, after all.