Edmonton Oilers Forced Into "Holding Pattern" With Evan Bouchard

The Edmonton Oilers have a few things they need to get done this offseason, but for a couple of restricted free agents, that will have to wait until the arbitration process takes place later this summer. 

According to NHL Insider Frank Seravalli, with forward Ryan McLeod opting for arbitration, the Oilers are in a "holding pattern" for their other crucial RFA, Evan Bouchard, until McLeod's case is settled. The Oilers will, at that point, have an idea of how much cap space they have to play with for Bouchard. 

The Oilers are trying to execute a hefty new bridge deal with Bouchard, who had a breakthrough campaign in 2022-23, particularly late in the season and in the playoffs. He, however, doesn't have arbitration rights.

Arbitration hearings will be held between July 20 and Aug. 4th. There is still the possibility that McLeod and the Oilers could come to an agreement before then, as well. 

Bouchard's production soared after he was paired with Mattias Ekholm after the latter's arrival at the trade deadline. Bouchard netted 19 points in the final 21 games of the regular season, then added a whopping 17 points in 12 playoff games. His TOI soared from about 17 minutes per game to about 21 minutes in those final 21 regular season contests, then to 23:00 in the postseason.

The 23-year-old will be going into his 5th NHL season.

As for McLeod, the bottom-six forward had 11 goals and 23 points in 57 games this past season, playing just over 14 minutes per game.

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