Insider Reveals How Oilers' Bouchard is Getting Squeezed Out Of Salary By His Own Teammate

The Edmonton Oilers still have a couple of outstanding contracts to deal with this summer. Restricted free agents Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod are both still waiting to settle their 2023-24 salaries. But the Oilers have some serious cap restraints to deal with. 

Bouchard, who had another big breakout late this past season and in the playoffs, is due a nice raise, but per NHL Insider Frank Seravalli, he's in a difficult situation, because he really has to wait and see how McLeod's arbitration case (or contract negotiations) play out on Aug. 4th before he'll know how much the Oilers can commit to him. 

They only have so much cap space to go around, and however much McLeod chews up, that's how much less they can give to Bouchard because that's all that's left in the pie. Every dollar extra that goes into McLeod's pocket is taken out of Bouchard's pocket. 

Seravalli notes that it was McLeod who got squeezed last summer because of the Oilers' tight cap situation and had to settle for $798,000 for this past season. Now, he says McLeod is ready to turn the tables. 

I'm sure he feels that he got squeezed last year, played the role of the good soldier, and now says, 'look, I have arb rights, Bouchard doesn't — he's going to have to be the one who gets squeezed, not me. And the fact that you have all these other contracts on your books, that's not my problem.'

On top of all those issues, more bad news for Bouchard came in the recent arbitration ruling in favor of the Chicago Blackhawks' Philipp Kurashev.  His award would seem to lead to a pricier number for McLeod than the Oilers had counted on. That, in effect, will hurt Bouchard.  

It'll be intriguing to see what route Bouchard goes once the final dollar figures are in: will he choose to do a one-year, bet-on-yourself deal and cash in next summer? Or will the Oilers be able to get him to sign a bridge contract of two or three years? 

The answer likely won't come until after Aug. 4th.

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