Ethan Bear‘s solid play has been a major surprise for the Edmonton Oilers this season. The 22-year-old has turned heads in his first season as a full-time NHL player. The 5’11″, 197-pound defenceman has three goals and four assists in 24 games. He has been a huge part of the Oilers’ early success.
Ethan Bear a Solid Addition
Ethan Bear is a native of Regina, Saskatchewan and a former fifth-round pick of the Oilers back in 2015. He was somewhat of a surprise making the team out of training camp. Adam Larsson went down with an injury in the first game of the season, and Bear was moved up in the lineup and took the opportunity and ran with it.
So far this season Bear has been one of the Oilers’ most reliable defencemen. The stats don’t lie, Bear currently has the best Corsi For Percentage (52.1) and Relative Corsi For (7.0) amongst all defencemen on the Oilers. To put things into perspective, Connor McDavid has been dominant so far and his Corsi numbers are 49.7 and 3.0 respectively.
Impressively, Bear has been averaging over 21 minutes a night and playing an important role on the Oilers’ top-four defence. Often being paired with Darnell Nurse, Bear has been used to not only shut-down the other team’s best players but has contributed offensively as well.
Bear’s Overall Play Surprising and Impressive
Bear’s solid two-way play has given the Oilers’ defence a dimension they have been lacking for a long time. He is a right-handed shot with strong puck-moving skills and is poised with the puck.
Bear has the ability to safely transport the puck up the ice. His superb passing to start the breakout has helped the Oilers’ tremendously.
At 5’11″ Bear is not the biggest nor most physical player on the roster. His strong positional play and good stick-checking abilities have made him hard to beat in his own zone.
Bear’s strong overall play has warranted some to believe he should be part of the early discussions for the NHL rookie of the year.
Bear Just Getting Started
At this point, it looks like Bear is just getting started. The former WHL Defenceman of the Year might be able to bring more offensively very soon.
The Oilers currently find themselves at the top of the Pacific Division with a 14-7-3 record. Bear has been a major contributor.
He is currently playing on a bargain contract ($720,000 cap-hit) but is due for a new deal next season. If he keeps things up, the Oilers will probably have no choice but to give him a nice raise.
Oilers and Ethan Bear Going Forward
Going forward this makes things very interesting. The Oilers have a plethora of high-end defensive prospects including Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones, Philip Broberg, Dmitri Samorukov and William Lagesson.
On top of that, the Oilers currently roster includes Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson who are all 27 or younger. So, Ken Holland might have a few tough decisions to make on the blueline in the next few years.
But with Bear showing so much potential to become a reliable top-four defenceman for years to come, he might be considered an untouchable piece for the Oilers in the next few years.