Ethan Bear and the Edmonton Oilers will continue to be a match made in heaven.
It was announced earlier today that the Edmonton Oilers have signed defenseman Ethan Bear to a two-year, $4 million extension which carries an Average Annual of $2 million.
The new deal will carry through the 2021-22 season when Bear will once again be a Restricted Free Agent with arbitration rights.
I wrote a week ago how Bear is a rising star for the Oilers and could really break out in 2020-21, and he will now get the chance to do so after signing this extension.
We’re going to delve into why this contract makes perfect sense for all parties, before attempting to give it a final grade.
Going on a Bear Hunt
Ethan Bear perhaps doesn’t get the same attention as fellow Oilers prospects Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg, but he should.
It was an impressive rookie year for Bear in 2019-20 with the 23-year-old recording 21 points (5 G, 16 A) with a 33 penalty minutes, 106 blocked shots, 59 hits and 44 takeaways in 71 regular season games.
As a result, Bear collected some votes for the Calder Trophy and he emerged as a real stud in the making.
What is most impressive, however, is Bear’s underlying stats which point to the right shot being a real dominant two-way defenseman for the Oilers for years to come.
For instance, Bear formed a formidable top-four partnership with hulking defenseman Darnell Nurse, and the pair were easily Edmonton’s most reliable pairing.
Bear played 36.1 percent of his five-on-five minutes against elite players, recording an on-ice goal differential of 25-19 (via Puck IQ).
Basically, while only a rookie and still cutting his teeth in the NHL, Bear excelled and flourished against other teams’ top lines and he and Nurse did a stellar job of shutting them down.
Bear also logged an ATOI of 21:58 during the 2019-20 regular season, a remarkably high number for a rookie that spiked to a lofty 22:37 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It is a perfect illustration of just how quickly Bear earned the trust of Head Coach Dave Tippett and the rest of the coaching staff, while also proving that the rookie could handle big minutes in all situations.
Bear was a big presence on the penalty kill, logging 1:58 a night during the regular season, and he also saw some time on the power play too, making him an all-round threat for the Oilers.
Overall, Ethan Bear is just a highly-effective all-round defenseman that boasts an excellent hockey IQ, while he also has some toughness to him as well.
Grading The Trade
This is a steal of a deal for the Edmonton Oilers.
After forging a strong partnership with the human wrecking ball that is Darnell Nurse last year, Ethan Bear will be a top-paring defenseman for the Oilers in 2020-21.
With Oscar Klefbom out for the year, Bear’s minutes should only increase and he should get a bigger role on both the power play and on the penalty kill too.
Having also proved that they are more than capable of shutting down other teams’ top lines, it is also feasible to project that Bear and Nurse will be Edmonton’s go-to pairing in all situations.
Plus, able to chip in with offense, Bear is a two-way defenseman who can eat big minutes and do a stellar job in all three zones.
At only 23, Bear is only going to improve too and he could quickly make this deal look even more of a bargain than it already is.
Overall, the Oilers are paying $2 million per year for a young defenseman who can eat monster minutes, play a shutdown role against elite opponents, log minutes on the PP and PK and contribute 20-30 points.
That is good value for money if you ask us.
And, while the Edmonton Oilers are now $2,198,325 over the cap ceiling, per CapFriendly, they can put Oscar Klefbom and his $4,167 million cap hit on LTIR which would make them cap compliant by 5:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 12, 2021.