Evan Bouchard will go down as one of the best defencemen ever to play for the London Knights.
His distinguished resume in junior hockey was given a final line on Thursday when the Oakville native was named the Max Kaminsky Trophy winner as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding defenceman.
Bouchard began this season with the Edmonton Oilers and played in seven games and scored his first NHL goal before being returned to the London Knights at the beginning of November.
The 19-year-old recorded 16 goals and 57 points in 45 regular season games and then took off under the brighter lights of the playoffs. Bouchard averaged better than two points per game as the Knights got to Game 7 of the second round. He finished with 21 points in 11 games.
“I am very honoured to be named defenceman of the year,” said the fourth-year Knight. “With the quality of players throughout this talented league, this is an achievement that I am incredibly proud of. I would like to credit my teammates, coaching staff, family and fans for this award. Each member within the London Knights organization was instrumental to my success both on and off the ice and I would like to thank each and every person who helped me along the way.”
Bouchard began his OHL career in 2015-16 after being selected 17th overall by London in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.
He was part of a team that featured current NHLers Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk, Victor Mete and Robert Thomas. They went on one of the most impressive playoff runs in major junior history, which saw the Knights win 17 consecutive games on their way to a Memorial Cup championship in Red Deer, Alta., in May of 2016.
In all, Bouchard played in 223 games in the Ontario Hockey League over four seasons. His best offensive totals came last season when he led London with 87 points.
Knights general manager Mark Hunter was very complimentary of what he witnessed Bouchard accomplish in his time in London.
“We are incredibly proud of Evan for his accomplishment, not just this year, but throughout his entire London Knights career,” said Hunter. “Evan was a tremendous leader and representative of our organization. We watched Evan mature from his time coming in to this league as an enthusiastic 16-year-old rookie, to leaving as a seasoned professional. We’d like to thank Evan for his time in London and wish him the best in his hockey career.”
Bouchard represented Canada at both the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the world junior hockey championship, where he served as an alternate captain in Vancouver.
Following the end of the Knights’ season, Bouchard joined the Edmonton Oilers’ farm team in Bakersfield for the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs. Bouchard was selected 10th overall by the Oilers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He played his first game for the Condors in Game 3 of their series with Colorado and had a goal and two assists and was named the game’s second star.
Bouchard is expected to challenge for a roster spot with the Oilers in 2019-20.
Notes: The London Knights announced the signing of 16-year-old defenceman Avery Winslow on April 24. Winslow was London’s fifth-round pick in 2018 and spent last year with the Wenatchee Wild of the BCHL.