While some teams are starting to look to the trade market to see what options are out there to help their respective back ends, there is still a free agent blueliner of some note that’s available. CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal provided (Twitter link) an update on Ethan Bear, suggesting that the rearguard is two to three weeks away from signing.
The 26-year-old was expected to re-sign with Vancouver after last season but after he suffered a shoulder injury at the Worlds in the spring, the Canucks opted to non-tender him. However, despite that and their recent acquisition of Nikita Zadorov, Dhaliwal reports that Vancouver is one of the teams showing interest in the defenseman.
Bear played in 61 games with Vancouver last season after being acquired from Carolina in an early-season trade, notching 16 points along with 82 blocks while logging 18:32 per game. His best season came back in 2019-20 with Edmonton when he had 21 points in 71 contests while averaging nearly 22 minutes a game which put him tenth in Calder Trophy voting. Since then, however, Bear hasn’t been able to get back to that top-four form consistently.
Dhaliwal suggests that Bear’s eventual contract is likely to be a one-year agreement worth around $1MM prorated. That’s low enough for most teams to fit into their cap structure, especially since teams would likely be sending someone making $775K or more down to make room for Bear on their roster. Not surprisingly, there appear to be several teams interested in Bear with Dhaliwal suggesting five or six are in the mix for Bear at this point.
While Bear isn’t likely to have a significant impact after being out for so long, he’d still represent a low-risk, low-cost upgrade to a team’s defensive depth. Accordingly, getting that type of asset for free midseason will be a nice piece of business for whoever manages to land him.