NHL Insider: Edmonton Oilers Have Difficult Road Ahead With Key RFA

The Edmonton Oilers have a salary cap problem. And due to that, says NHL Insider Frank Seravalli, they are also going to have a problem with key restricted free agent Evan Bouchard. On his Daily Faceoff podcast, Seravalli asks:

What does the next contract look like for Evan Bouchard? I know they're going to try and bridge him. But does he want that? Is he willing to play ball? Does he want a longer-term deal, and what does that look like?

Bouchard is coming off an entry-level contract with an AAV of $1.6M, so sure, a bridge deal in the $5M/year range would be a handsome raise. But after his late season and postseason performance, you couldn't blame him for expecting something more than that. 

Bouchard exploded into prominence after the trade deadline, once he was paired up with the newly-arrived Mattias Ekholm. Bouchard notched 19 points in 19 games to finish the season. Add to that, a spot on the power play next to Connor McDavid, and he was one of Edmonton's biggest weapons in the playoffs, posting an NHL-best 13 assists, and 17 points in just 12 games. His time on ice (TOI) soared from 18:30 during the regular season to over 23 minutes per game in the playoffs. 

"If you look at how important he was to the Oilers once the Tyson Barrie trade went down... They're obviously big believers in his game, but it's not going to be cheap. I know what their plan is—they want to bridge him—I just don't know if it makes sense."

Photo; Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports