The Washington Capitals announced Thursday that they signed defenseman Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth 4.125 million dollars, which is an AAV of just over two million.
Bear had remained unsigned this season due to offseason shoulder surgery.
Here is the team's official announcement of the signing on X:
The defenseman has played for the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Vancouver Canucks before joining Washington. In 251 games for those clubs, he has 16 goals and 47 assists for 63 points.
The Washington Capitals need Ethan Bear to help them on defense.
Bear is 26 and will be a nice addition to the Caps blueline, most likely slotting in on the second pairing with Rasmus Sandin. With Washington being one of the older teams in the league, signing a young defenseman who has solid advanced numbers like Bear is a solid way to go.
The Capitals are currently 5th in the Metropolitan Division with 39 points. This is all while Alex Ovechkin has regressed severely, only scoring 6 goals through 32 games. It is pretty impressive that this team has stayed afloat in the race when their star player is scoring at that rate.
If Ovechkin can pick up his normal scoring rate and Bear can generate some offensive chances and stabilize the blue line, the Caps should be looked at as a team that can hold their second wild card spot and be a playoff contender. That would make them a contender to win a round but probably not as a Stanley Cup contender.
For Bear, he will come into a situation in Washington where he will not be asked to do too much. A big plus for NHL players is having a defined role on a team as it makes them feel less overwhelmed. You see this strategy a lot when the team's top prospects first get called up to the NHL.
For a league that is not developmental in the slightest, this is the best strategy to get young players accumulated into the league.