Though Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear was a fifth-round pick in 2015, he is showing his worth as a top prospect and a late-round gem.
As he inches closer to the NHL, he has single-handedly climbed his way up the Oilers’ organizational depth chart and to prominence as one of the team’s up-and-coming prospects.
After being drafted, Bear returned to his WHL Seattle Thunderbirds, where he posted 19 goals and 65 points through 69 games. He also finished fifth among all WHL defencemen in scoring, and helped the Thunderbirds in their impressive 2016 playoff run with eight goals and 22 points in 18 postseason games.
However, this past season, the Regina native wanted to prove more and stepped up to add even more to his game. He racked up 28 goals and 70 points through 67 games, and powered the Thunderbirds to a WHL championship, with 20 assists and 26 points through 17 playoff games. He was the league’s third highest-scoring blueliner and won the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league’s top defenceman of the year.
Moving Up the Ranks
As he looks to training camp this year, the 20-year-old is finally eligible to join the ranks of the AHL, moving one step closer to the Oilers main roster. While he likely starts the year with the Condors, Bear will have to prove his worth and do everything he can to earn minutes and prove his worth.
Looking at his game, he is a right-handed puck-moving blueliner who isn’t afraid to step up and join the offensive rush. He is the type of defenceman that the Oilers have been looking for, and one that could emerge as the power-play quarterback Edmonton needs. Still, the 5-foot-11, 198-pound forward has to add size and prove that he can stack up with his opponents at the rough-and-tumble NHL level.
Proving His Worth
When it comes to playing with Bakersfield, Bear will have a lot of competition. The Condors enter the 2017-18 campaign with a wealth of depth on the backend. While Yohann Auvitu and Ryan Stanton may try to compete and become the seventh defenceman to start the year, both will be looking for top minutes at the AHL level. Not only that, players like Mark Fayne and Dillon Simpson, who have been in the organization, will also want to remain in the top four. In addition, with the rise of other prospects like Caleb Jones, Bear will have to show that he deserves big minutes at the AHL level, and make an impact whenever and however he can.
Overall, he packs a lot of promise, and has shown that he can make an impact on the ice and power his way to the top. He has been playing so well that the Oilers cannot ignore his impact, and there are no signs of him slowing down. Still, if he wants to prove his NHL worth, he will have to add size, continue putting up results and be more aggressive at both ends of the rink.