A year ago April, Ethan Bear’s career trajectory was looking good. He made his NHL debut in year two of entry deal, and posted impressive numbers in Bakersfield.
In the offseason, Edmonton signed Joel Persson, a RH blue who could move the puck and had blossomed in the SHL. The team also drafted Evan Bouchard in the top-10 overall, and Bouchard made the opening night lineup over Bear in the fall of 2018.
This past season, Bear had some injury issues but performed well when healthy. Despite his performance (we’ll have a closer look in a sec), he’ll enter this year’s training camp with even more competition. Is this Ethan Bear’s final season in the Oilers organization?
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Lowetide: Projecting the Oilers 2019-20 Opening Night Lineup
- Lowetide: Revisiting the Oilers’ 2016 draft and the opportunities missed
- Lowetide: Examining the potential waiver-wire opportunities at hand for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Cooper Marody’s utility gives him an edge for an Oilers roster spot in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster construction options for the Oilers over the next seven months.
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto has the talent to win a job with the Oilers on merit, if he’s healthy.
- Jonathan Willis: Jesse Puljujarvi still has upside and the Oilers’ patient approach is the right one
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Dave Tippett on rounding out his coaching staff, fixing Oilers’ special teams and using Connor McDavid
- Lowetide: Handicapping the Oilers’ young defencemen and their chances of replacing Andrej Sekera
- Lowetide: Is Kirill Maksimov progressing as the Edmonton Oilers’ next great hope for a true homegrown sniper?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers ease pressure on crowded defensive pipeline by trading John Marino to the Penguins
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2021-22 Oilers might look like after their steady build toward contender status
- Lowetide: Joel Persson is ideally situated to win an opening night roster spot with the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2019-20 Oilers might look like without trade missteps.
- Lowetide: Finding the best candidates for the final two spots on the Oilers skill lines in 2019-20.
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ opening night lineup, line combinations and more.
- Lowetide: Does the James Neal acquisition impact Oilers’ prospects in 2019-20?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ acquisition of James Neal could add badly needed scoring to the top two lines.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland puts his stamp on the Oilers with first big move in Lucic-Neal trade
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland ends an ugly situation for the Oilers by trading Milan Lucic for James Neal
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Potential free-agent options for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers defencemen can make an outlet pass?
- Lowetide: Looking ahead to Oilers training camp: 35 players for 23 jobs
- Jonathan Willis: Josh Archibald won’t fix the Oilers’ biggest problems, but he’ll help with some key issues.
- Lowetide: Will the 2019-20 Bakersfield Condors be the Oilers’ best minor-league team ever?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
CONDORS BLUE 2018-19
Eric Rodgers has been a gift to our community since the Oklahoma days, and this season he added a valuable piece to his work. This year, Eric estimated special teams minutes, which allows us to drill down on each discipline. Here are the prospect defensemen, with even strength goal differential and estimated minutes.
This is terrific information, even as we realize these are (educated) estimates. Bear shows well but does not stand out in the crowd (Jones and Lagesson are category leaders).
Bear had injury issues but his conditioning was strong. Peter Chiarelli said in preseason “Jones and Bear, their physical conditioning testing was leaps and bounds over what it has been historically, so they’ve really put in the work, and we’ll see where it takes them.”
BEAR YEAR OVER YEAR OFFENSE
Bear improved offensively year over year, and in a full (68-game) schedule he might have exceeded 40 points on the year. Let’s compare him to Caleb Jones:
The numbers are close this season, Jones had the edge on the five-on-four and they were close to equal overall. I think most of us believe Jones is the better prospect and that he’ll arrive in Edmonton this fall (and before Bear). A reminder that prospects don’t develop in a straight line and injuries impact defensemen often. That was the case with Bear a year ago.
When Bear turned pro in the fall of 2017, the RHD depth chart looked like this: Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Matt Benning, Eric Gryba, Mark Fayne.
Entering camp this fall, I’d suggest the RH depth chart is Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, Joel Persson, Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, Logan Day. Kris Russell remains as a safety net, but it sure sounds like Persson (or other) will make the team. It should also be mentioned that Caleb Jones can play RH side, but I’m not sure it makes sense to move the veteran over and then ask rookie Jones to play there.
Ethan Bear’s road to the NHL in 2017 was blocked only by slow shutdown defenders and his own lack of experience. In 2019, many of the players in competition with him have similar skills. I think he may need a little luck, along with good health, to spend significant time in Edmonton. Things will get even more complicated a year from now when he’s waiver eligible. He’s a bubble player.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, starts at 10 on TSN1260. Giulio Caravatta, Color Analyst for the BC Lions radio broadcast on TSN radio will join us to talk about the big trade and the Lions crazy bad season. Eric Fawcett from North Pole Hoops will talk NBA. John Horn, TSN tennis analyst will talk about the phenom that is Bianca Andreescu, plus we’ll chat CFL and maybe some NBA. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!