July 28: The Hurricanes have officially announced the contract for Bear, confirming the details reported yesterday. General manager Don Waddell released a statement on the deal, though it will raise even more eyebrows:
Adjusting to a new team and system can be challenging for a young defenseman. We are confident Ethan will be able to take another step in his development this season.
July 27: PuckPedia reports that the Carolina Hurricanes re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Ethan Bear to a one-year, $2.2MM deal. The contract will make Bear a restricted free agent again next offseason with one more season remaining on his RFA eligibility.
Carolina acquired Bear last season in a one-for-one swap with the Edmonton Oilers for forward Warren Foegele. Bear’s first season in Carolina wasn’t too kind to him, though, as his defensive play took a serious step back while seeing a reduction in his role. His 16:05 per-game average is a far cry from his 21:58 mark in 2019-20 with the Oilers. On the scoresheet, he tied his career-high in goals with five and added nine assists for 14 points in 58 games.
If Bear is able to rebound back to his form from his first two full seasons in Edmonton, though, it’s a great deal for the ’Canes. Bear will still be battling for ice time on the team’s third pairing along with new acquisition Dylan Coghlan and a healthy Jake Gardiner — if Carolina doesn’t opt to trade him. $2.2MM might be too steep a price to pay for someone the organization views as a seventh defenseman, but it’s a gamble to trade him away and watch him bounce back elsewhere.
After the signing, the Hurricanes are left with under $2MM in cap space.