The Edmonton Oilers have shot up the North Division standings of late, winning their last four and passing every Canadian team not named the Maple Leafs. They’ve had all that success without the services of young defenseman Ethan Bear, who hasn’t played since January with a head injury. Bear was struck with the puck (while sitting on the bench) and has been on injured reserve for the last three weeks. That IR stint ended today as the Oilers activated him ahead of tonight’s match against the Vancouver Canucks.
Bear, 23, had an outstanding season in 2019-20, racking up 21 points in 71 games and actually finishing tenth in the Calder Trophy voting as the league’s best rookie. While this year wasn’t going quite as smoothly in the early going, he was still averaging more than 20 minutes a night for the Oilers as an efficient puck-moving option. His return will only strengthen a back end that has still allowed too many goals against, getting the puck quickly up to those all-world forwards.
To make room, the team has moved William Lagesson to injured reserve, likely retroactive to his last game on February 15. Even if he was healthy and playing, most Oilers fans would happily swap him out for Bear.