Rookie defenseman Ethan Bear has deservedly obtained important reward for his work with the Edmonton Oilers this season. A Calder Trophy probably is not within the playing cards, however Bear seems actually able to being an integral a part of the crew’s long-term future.Ethan Bear|Jeff Bottari/NHLI through Getty ImagesThe 2019-20 season has had its share of surprises, and the success of the Edmonton Oilers ranks excessive amongst them.
Via multiple quarter of the season, the Oilers sit tied with the Boston Bruins for second within the league, and the excellent play of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, who’re first and second in league scoring with 48 and 47 factors respectively, is essentially to thank for that. Supplementing the play of the Oilers’ two star scorers has been the puckstopping of Mikko Koskinen, who has confirmed his doubters flawed by starting his four-year take care of a bang, posting among the many league’s finest numbers by his 14 appearances. However maybe the most important shock on a crew many anticipated to overlook the playoffs is the play of rookie defenseman Ethan Bear.
Two years faraway from his final shot within the NHL – a shoulder harm prevented Bear from cracking the lineup final season and the depth roles had been stuffed by a number of veterans – Bear wasn’t thought-about the primary selection to start out the season within the NHL, not on a defensive depth chart that was starting to get clogged by the likes of Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones, Joel Persson and Dmitri Samorukov. However a standout camp from the 22-year-old, to not point out a further season of expertise within the AHL, helped him crack the lineup straight out of coaching camp, the one of the aforementioned blueliners to make the opening-night lineup. He hasn’t simply made his approach into the lineup, nevertheless. Quite, Bear has flourished, skating in every of Edmonton’s 26 video games this season, slide right into a spot on the Oilers’ high pairing alongside Darnell Nurse and earn extra ice time – 21:06 per sport – than some other NHL rookie.
“There may not be a harder-working participant within the lineup – exterior of Connor McDavid – than Bear,” one scout stated of the rookie defender. “This can be a man that went within the fifth spherical (124th general in 2015), he isn’t huge, doesn’t play bodily and his consistency in shutdown conditions had been at all times an enormous concern. However not getting a name as much as the massive membership after getting a style of NHL motion the yr prior, that helped his willpower and I don’t suppose we’ve seen his true potential but.”
Bear performs a easy sport. That simplicity has finished wonders for his NHL efficiency, with Oilers coach Dave Tippett displaying a willingness to throw the inexperienced blueliner in any state of affairs with out hesitation. “Not many gamers can go from tasting the NHL to not getting a second alternative for 2 years and thrive,” the scout stated. “However his sport is extra refined. His health degree is unimaginable, he’s sooner and the Oilers appear comfy permitting him to hurry the puck down the ice and play key power-play minutes.”
Statistically, his eight factors in 26 video games aren’t something particular, however of all Oilers defensemen with no less than 10 video games performed, Bear is the chief with a 51.2 Corsi share at five-a-side. Measured in opposition to different rookie blueliners, that places Bear a step behind the Vancouver Canucks’ Quinn Hughes (54.60) however forward of the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar, who’s the clear-cut Calder Trophy favourite. “Even when he doesn’t put up huge offensive numbers – 40 factors is likely to be his ceiling throughout his profession – he hasn’t stepped right into a top-four place accidentally,” the scout stated. “He has excessive confidence and his pace permits him to blast again to the purpose higher than most. The additional growth within the AHL is beginning to repay.”
Bear, a pending RFA, is certainly one of greater than a dozen Oilers set to turn into a free agent subsequent summer time, however his small pattern measurement will probably forestall him from cashing in on a profitable deal. However Bear has stepped forward of the remainder of his defensive counterparts within the system, and if he’s able to evolving even additional, he’ll be an integral a part of Edmonton’s future. It’s a future that’s vivid on the blueline, too: Bouchard nonetheless possesses a excessive ceiling, and Philip Broberg, Edmonton’s first-round choose in 2019 (eighth general), remains to be a couple of years away from making the soar, however he’s having a implausible yr in Sweden.
Whereas these two could have probably the most hype, although, Bear might turn into the calm, cool and picked up presence for which the Oilers have been desperately looking.
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Tags: edmonton oilers, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.