Evan Bouchard impresses in season debut for Edmonton Oilers

Evan Bouchard was worth the wait.

Finally getting into his first game of the season, a 4-2 Edmonton Oilers triumph over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at Rogers Place, Bouchard had an assist and four shots on goal in just under 17 minutes of ice time.

“It was just a matter of time until I got to play in a game,” the defenceman said. “It was more just staying positive, enjoying myself. It is the NHL. It’s always fun being here. Enjoying every day, learning every day is a big part of it.

“I don’t think anybody enjoys sitting out watching.”

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It was the Oilers’ 12th game of the season. Bouchard can shoot and move the puck, which is why many were calling for him to be injected into the lineup much earlier. Now that his coach and general manager have seen him, it’s going to be tough to justify not playing him again Saturday in Calgary.

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“Really solid. That’s a tough thing to jump into a game like that. Every game, these points are critical for us,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after Tuesday’s game. “I was really, really pleased with his game. (He) got an assist on a really good point from the shot.

“(He) jumped in and didn’t look out of place at all. That’s a really good sign from a young player.”

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“He puts the puck on the net. He’s poised with the puck. He can pass,” Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said on Wednesday’s edition of Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED.

“Certainly looking forward to Calgary on Saturday. I would expect and think that he’s going to be in the lineup.”

Bouchard played 23 games in Sweden while the NHL was in off-season mode in the fall. In 2019-20, he had 36 points in 54 games for the Oilers’ farm team in Bakersfield, Calif.

“We saw a lot of growth in Boosh,” said Bakersfield Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Last year, coming through training camp and into our season, we saw him take a big step. He got used to the league. He got used to what the expectations were regarding practice habits.

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“He has certain qualities that set him apart (and) that are really special. He’s a very earnest and coachable young man.”

Bouchard, 21, was drafted 10th overall by the Oilers in 2018. He played seven NHL games that fall and scored his first goal. Last night was his first NHL assist.

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