Fans have been clamoring for defenseman Evan Bouchard to make his season debut on the blueline for the Edmonton Oilers. It appears that Bouchard is closing in on game action for the first time since early in the 2018-19 season.
With defenseman Ethan Bear currently day-to-day with a head injury, the door is open for Bouchard to be inserted into the lineup. Head coach Dave Tippett admitted on Monday that the move could come soon.
“We’re going to try to get him in pretty soon,” Tippett said when asked about Bouchard’s potential debut. “We got nine defencemen around here right now and eight on the roster. So, to put Bouchard on the roster, that means you’ve got nine on the roster and a maximum of 12 forwards. There’s a balancing act that goes into it.”
Part of that balancing act could be to send a forward to the taxi squad. The Oilers may be preparing to do that, as they placed veteran Alex Chiasson on waivers Monday afternoon. If Chiasson clears, which he is expected to, the Oilers are likely to assign him to the taxi swuad and recall Bouchard.
One thing that could hold Tippett back from dressing the youngster? A lack of experience and an absence from North American pro hockey dating back to last March.
“If Bouch would have had three or four exhibition games to get up and going and take somebody’s job, then he might be playing more,” Tippett continued. “But right now, we haven’t had the ability to get him in there. The good thing about it is he’s played a bunch of hockey over in Europe so when he comes back in, it’s not as if he hasn’t played since last year.”
Considering the struggles of some defenders on the Oilers roster, it’s hard to imagine that Bouchard could bring a negative impact to the lineup.