The NHL draft offers a rare opportunity to pursue an avenue of discussion that one simply can’t regarding free agents or trades–there is no “tampering,” so you can openly ask a player what they’d think about going to team X.
It’s no secret that the scuttlebutt around the Red Wings suggests that the team is leaning toward drafting London Knights defenseman Evan Bouchard 6th overall in Dallas next month, and so, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took that idea to a we-can-actually-have-this-conversation conclusion;
Kulfan spoke with Bouchard about possibly being drafted by the Red Wings, he spoke with TSN’s Craig Button about Bouchard’s “fit” with the Wings, and Kulfan and fellow scribe John Niyo made Bouchard the focus of a pre-draft podcast, also bringing in NTDP players Oliver Wahlstrom, Joel Farabee and Mattias Samuelsson for interviews. It’s all very clever and very well-done.
Here’s what Bouchard had to say to Kulfan in text form:
“It would be very exciting to become a Red Wing,” said Bouchard, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-shot defenseman who had a familiarity with the Wings’ former rink. “I’ve been to a few games at Joe Louis Arena. When I was younger I was able to skate on it (on the ice). It was obviously special.”
Bouchard is generally considered a lock to be a top-10 selection in June’s draft — something that was no sure thing entering the season.
But in 67 games this season Bouchard had 25 goals and 62 assists, while averaging over 25 minutes per game.
In his third season of junior hockey Bouchard took advantage of a bigger role given to him by the coaching staff and thrived, going from a possible late-first round selection to being a lottery pick.
A committed, sweat-drenched summer working and preparing for this past season helped, too.
“I knew it was a big year for me,” Bouchard said. “I worked hard to get where I am now, and the confidence building into the third year, when guys (on London left for the NHL) there was a leadership role for me. The coaches and teammates supported me, and it helped me having the team we had and the teammates I had.”
Kulfan continues, speaking with Craig Button about Bouchard’s profile before wrapping things up with Bouchard…
And in audio/video form, Kulfan and Niyo speak about the draft for 45 minutes, starting with Bouchard and Button, and then moving on to the trio of U.S. NTDP program prospects:
Again, I’m impressed with both the effort and ingenuity involved in asking the probably-favored pick whether he’d like to come to Detroit and profiling him in-person. Smart stuff.