Signing Ethan Bear

by Lowetide
Photo by Mark Williams

The Oilers have to sign Ethan Bear to a new contract in the coming days and don’t have much room to wheel. Many want an “Oscar Klefbom” deal but that may have to wait until next year. How important is getting Bear signed long-term? If the Oilers believe he has a Klefbom-quality future, it’s a big damned deal.

THE ATHLETIC!

I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.

I wrote the following on September 19, 2015, on the day Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers signed Oscar Klefbom to a long-term deal. At the time, Klefbom had played just 77 NHL games, 12 fewer than Ethan Bear has to this point in his career.

The Edmonton Oilers have signed Oscar Klefbom to a seven-year deal at what is being reported at $4.167 million per season—the Jonas Brodin deal looks like it might have been the model. Brodin’s six-year, $4.1 million dollar contract was signed in October of 2014—at a point when the young Minnesota defenseman had played 126 games at the time of the deal, Klefbom has just 77 under his belt as he cashes.

The lack of NHL experience is a concern but the price point and number of free-agent seasons purchased gives this a little extra appeal. Klefbom led the Oilers in EV time-on-ice, 19:47, as a rookie, also had 1:44 SH and 27 seconds on the power play. He played nine games in OKC in 2014-15, we’ll call sending him out stupid is as stupid does.

Klefbom’s role last season was to play with chaos blue Justin Schultz—while getting a zone start push—and those two things turned Schultz into a positive in possession. In Justin Schultz’ three NHL seasons, his primary partner had a Corsi 5×5 For % of 45.4 (Nick Schultz, 12-13), 42.1 (Andrew Ference 13-14) and 51.4% (Oscar Klefbom, 14-15) when on the ice with him. I think Klefbom might want to buy Tyler Dellow a beer today, but that’s a guess and maybe Dallas Eakins figured it out without Dellow.

The money is dear—I’m not sure how much offensive value he brings—but the FA seasons purchased make this a deal I think we can be reasonably satisfied with in terms of cap weight. The Oilogosphere often differs in opinions on these things, I think the main worries are injury (Oscar had some concussion issues in the past) and range of skills (he may not hit 30 points in an NHL season). A bridge deal for two years may have made the next deal far more expensive—and as Jeff Petry’s experience shows perhaps locking these young men up miles from freedom is the right play for a struggling Oilers organization.

This is 22 men (Joakim Nygard is in the minors) and there’s about $250,000 left over. I don’t think this is a reasonable path. A one-year deal for Bear kicks the problem down the road, but next year over $23 million comes off the books.

PUCK IQ

Oscar Klefbom versus elites 2014-15: 388 minutes (34.4 percent of his overall five on five time), 44.0 percent DFF%, 3.50 DFF%RC, 10-17 goals, 2.63 GA-60.

Ethan Bear versus elites 2019-20: 468 minutes (36.1 percent of his overall five on five time), 45.3 percent DFF%, 0.00 DFF%RC, 25-19 goals, 2.43 GA-60.

Both are rock solid performances by young blue. I am not against signing Bear long term, just don’t see a path forward. Puck IQ. I think the play here is to wait a year and then go long on a deal for Bear.

DAVE TIPPETT

Bruce McCurdy will be my guest on the Lowdown today, he has a fine article up at the Cult of Hockey in regard to coach Tippett’s interview wit Bob Stauffer yesterday. Bruce’s take on Tippett’s verbal is here. The Puljujarvi and Barrie takes were the most interesting from here.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy morning, TSN1260, maybe we’ll have an Oilers signing to discuss. McCurdy hits the air at 10:20, and Joe Osborne from OddsShark talks World Series and NFL weekend plus your comments. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio! PS, Queen Elizabeth is on the Canadian $1,000 bill. I have seven of them to give away at 10:15 this morning.

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innercitysmytty

The Oilers currently have $732k in available cap space. One thing I still see people missing on here is that this is for a current roster of 22 players. When Bear and Lagesson are signed, that would make a roster of 24. The team is allowed to carry 20 players to start the season and be compliant, but I think it would be reasonable to assume a roster of 21. Should they choose to run 21, they actually have $732k plus the available space freed up by demoting 3 players after Bear and Lagesson are signed to reach the appropriate roster size. Looking at who may be sent down, it will likely total in the $2.7 million range for the 3 players. Taking that into account the Oilers effectively have $3.4 million total to sign Bear and Lagesson or any other combination of two players and still remain under the cap to start the season. The LTIR is still not touched in this scenario. Any further signing beyond these two results in an additional player of approximately $900k-$1 million going down, etc. They could sign Bear to a bridge for $1.75-2 million, sign Lagesson for $900k, demote another F and sign Kahun for $1.5 million. This scenario doesn’t leave Holland his walking around money but is doable.

Sierra

OriginalPouzar: I would have been miffed at this signing a month ago, or maybe even 2 weeks ago as, in my opinion, moving Rusty for as much cap space as possible (or to fill a hole with a similar overpriced contract) was imperative.

Its been fairly evident for a while now that Rusty wasn’t going to be moved – that move would have happened earlier in the off-season.With Klef likely out for much of the years, I understand why Russell wasn’t moved (if was moveable and if Holland was even contemplating moving him prior to the Klef-bombshell).

In any event, given current circumstances, this move works just fine and comes with essentially zero risk for the 2021/22 season – ifthere is no roster spot for him, he can likely be moved post-expansion draft or simply buried in the AHL for a cap hit of an eighth of a million dollars.

This is the correct answer at 1.25M, but not at the 1.75M in one of your earlier posts.

Sierra

RonnieB: I’ve been having the same issue (just began today) on both my phone (Android) and my laptop (windows 10). Not able to access this site at all until I tried VPN and had no trouble connecting on either of them. Funny thing is it works exactly the opposite way when i try to access Oilersnation.com

I was unable to get to the site all afternoon and evening with the message that I wasn’t connected to the internet. Tried iPad and iPhone on 3 different browsers, wifi and LTE.

OriginalPouzar

Lowetide: I think you’re a year away from a couple of long and expensive contracts, but this is a claim you can make next season for sure. If only CapFriendly stopped screaming Sutter and Beagle.

I think it’s fair to say all three western Canadian teams have both enormous riches and outrageous cap flaws. Not sure there’s any value in arguing about it, to be honest.

A more interesting conversation might be Vancouver’s goaltending versus Edmonton’s tandem. How much will Holtby play? Can he get to .915?

He hasn’t been to .915 since 2016/17.

Maybe the first stop should be seeing if he can get to .900?

Ribs

Crazy Pedestrian:
Does anyone else have issues accessing the site? I can’t get into the site at all on anything connected to my internet. (Had to use LTE on phone to post this)
I checked my modem/network settings, I don’t have anything blocked or blacklisted. I rebooted my modem, still nothing. Website is saying “the site can’t be reached”. Does this site have New proxy or firewall requirements to access now? Website was working completely fine yesterday. What gives?

I couldn’t get on the site all afternoon for some reason on my pc at work. Phone (android chrome) worked fine. Not too sure what is up with that!

defmn

Harpers Hair: Good call…exactly what I was thinking.

With the likelihood of a Canadian division next season, we should focus on the immediate opposition.

I have no idea what Holtby has left in the tank but Ian Clark is regarded as the best goaltender coach in the league so we’ll have to see what he can do.

As we get closer to next season, it’s likely most productive to talk about which Canadian team has improved the most and on that front I would have to choose Montreal.

They would be my odds on favourite to win the Canadian division at this point.

I expect Ottawa is also going to be sneaky good.

Throw a blanket over the rest of them.

Agree with this although I think Ottawa still has some growing pains in the early going as they figure out how to play together.

It should be fun watching Toronto media freak out over Montreal leap frogging them.

defmn

Lowetide:

A more interesting conversation might be Vancouver’s goaltending versus Edmonton’s tandem. How much will Holtby play? Can he get to .915?

Holtby has a better chance of getting to .915 than Smith imo but is Demko the .985 guy we saw in 4 games during the playoffs or the .905 average he posted in 27 games during the regular season?

I have no idea but I do think Koskinen is the guy we saw last year.

Size, positioning and an even disposition strikes me as more easily replicated than other attributes.

Harpers Hair

Lowetide: I think you’re a year away from a couple of long and expensive contracts, but this is a claim you can make next season for sure. If only CapFriendly stopped screaming Sutter and Beagle.

I think it’s fair to say all three western Canadian teams have both enormous riches and outrageous cap flaws. Not sure there’s any value in arguing about it, to be honest.

A more interesting conversation might be Vancouver’s goaltending versus Edmonton’s tandem. How much will Holtby play? Can he get to .915?

Good call…exactly what I was thinking.

With the likelihood of a Canadian division next season, we should focus on the immediate opposition.

I have no idea what Holtby has left in the tank but Ian Clark is regarded as the best goaltender coach in the league so we’ll have to see what he can do.

As we get closer to next season, it’s likely most productive to talk about which Canadian team has improved the most and on that front I would have to choose Montreal.

They would be my odds on favourite to win the Canadian division at this point.

I expect Ottawa is also going to be sneaky good.

Throw a blanket over the rest of them.

RonnieB

jp: JPsays:
October 21, 2020 at 10:39 pm
SVR,

Crazy Pedestrian,

I’d barely noticed but I’ve been getting the same you’re not connected to the internet message often recently as well. I’ve just refreshed the page again and it’s brought me to the site without a prolonged issue at any point.

I expect your issues have been more significant than that but figured I’d mention it in case you just haven’t been persistent enough.

I’ve been having the same issue (just began today) on both my phone (Android) and my laptop (windows 10). Not able to access this site at all until I tried VPN and had no trouble connecting on either of them. Funny thing is it works exactly the opposite way when i try to access Oilersnation.com

NecrOILmancer

Wow, these trolling attempts are really getting embarrassing. He was never good at it, but he used to at least get one or two people angry enough that they didn’t immediately notice his vacuous attempts at logic. But now… well… he’s just become a laughing stock.

jp

SVR,

Crazy Pedestrian,

I’d barely noticed but I’ve been getting the same you’re not connected to the internet message often recently as well. I’ve just refreshed the page again and it’s brought me to the site without a prolonged issue at any point.

I expect your issues have been more significant than that but figured I’d mention it in case you just haven’t been persistent enough.

Oz

defmn,

You don’t grow up when you are over 70, you just get more fixed in your ways.
I’m over 70 and suffer from Island isolation also 😎
Oh and by the way Kris Russel is good value on this latest signing.

defmn

Harpers Hair: So… moving the goalposts…you’re absolutely right.

Jim Benning needs to placed in isolation whenever he’s considering signing a UFA.

But that whataboutism hardly forgives the countless minor moves that collectively suck up cap space.

The reality is, teams like the Oilers who have so much invested in their best players, have a much smaller margin of error in their dealings lower in the batting order.

Russell is hardly a hill to die on but the posters who point to a “successful” season with him in the lineup are just whistling past the graveyard.

The Oilers were a couple of losses away from perdition and even with unsustainable special teams production were deemed to be in need of a play in where they promptly shit the bed.

Here we go again with the recipe for liver casserole. Heavy on the bitter and sour.

You make statements that aren’t true and when you are corrected you get all huffy like a 12 year old.

You are over 70 now. Time to grow up.

hags9k

It’s hard to watch him mash it up the boards at times but I am still a fan of Russell. I am really looking forward to rooting for this lineup this season, whenever that may be.
GOILERS!!

OriginalPouzar

Harpers Hair: The Pacific division is the weakest in the NHL.

The only good team in the division is Vegas.

The rest are mediocre to bad.

The Canucks would not pay $4 million for a bad 3LD.

You can easily fill that spot with a player like Jordie Benn who makes half that…and like Russell also can play both sides.

Its absolutely hilarious that you’re now defending Russell after all this time.

#toobin

but, what, but, wait – who said anything about $4M? The position was he isn’t a roster player on a good team – nothing to do with contracts.

there are many teams he would be a roster player on.

no, teams would not want him at $4M and that is the reason most Oiler fans were hoping to dispose of him.

that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a top 7 performer on many good hockey teams.

FYI: The contract re-sign was for $1.25M

OriginalPouzar

The jury is out on (a) paying a play $1.6M per year to play for 2 years vs. (b) paying a player $2M per year for 8 years not to play……

Got it!

Harpers Hair

Lowetide: No but they pay two shitty centers over $7 million, so it’s not all sunshine and roses on the coast.

So… moving the goalposts…you’re absolutely right.

Jim Benning needs to placed in isolation whenever he’s considering signing a UFA.

But that whataboutism hardly forgives the countless minor moves that collectively suck up cap space.

The reality is, teams like the Oilers who have so much invested in their best players, have a much smaller margin of error in their dealings lower in the batting order.

Russell is hardly a hill to die on but the posters who point to a “successful” season with him in the lineup are just whistling past the graveyard.

The Oilers were a couple of losses away from perdition and even with unsustainable special teams production were deemed to be in need of a play in where they promptly shit the bed.

jp

Harpers Hair:

The Canucks would not pay $4 million for a bad 3LD.

It’s true, the Canucks only shell out multimillion dollar contracts for 4th line forwards.

Harpers Hair

OriginalPouzar: That’s weird – he had a roster spot and a lineup spot on a team that finished 2nd in the division and 4th in the conference last year and finished higher than the Canucks.

He would have a roster spot on the Canucks.

The Pacific division is the weakest in the NHL.

The only good team in the division is Vegas.

The rest are mediocre to bad.

The Canucks would not pay $4 million for a bad 3LD.

You can easily fill that spot with a player like Jordie Benn who makes half that…and like Russell also can play both sides.

Its absolutely hilarious that you’re now defending Russell after all this time.

#toobin

Crazy Pedestrian

Does anyone else have issues accessing the site? I can’t get into the site at all on anything connected to my internet. (Had to use LTE on phone to post this)
I checked my modem/network settings, I don’t have anything blocked or blacklisted. I rebooted my modem, still nothing. Website is saying “the site can’t be reached”. Does this site have New proxy or firewall requirements to access now? Website was working completely fine yesterday. What gives?

Harpers Hair

OriginalPouzar:
The Oilers are paying Kyle Turris $1.6 million for the next two season while Nashville is paying Kyle Turris $2M for each of the next 8 seasons.

Oilers wins that gambit every time.

The jury is out on that one.

The Predators wanted to get rid of him for a reason.

OriginalPouzar

Harpers Hair: Russell does not have a roster spot on a good NHL team.

That’s weird – he had a roster spot and a lineup spot on a team that finished 2nd in the division and 4th in the conference last year and finished higher than the Canucks.

He would have a roster spot on the Canucks.

OriginalPouzar

The Oilers are paying Kyle Turris $1.6 million for the next two season while Nashville is paying Kyle Turris $2M for each of the next 8 seasons.

Oilers wins that gambit every time.

Side

Harpers Hair: The Oilers were .062 in winning percentage from being 20th in the league.

In a 31 team league that is the definition of mediocre.

Seek help.

SVR

Crazy Pedestrian:

Btw. For some reason this site won’t work at all on My phone Anymore when using wifi. Every other site is fine except this one. Phone says “ Cannot connect to website because my phone is not connected to the Internet” when in fact, it is.

Something going on in the background?

I’m having the same issue on both my phone and my IPad. Anyone have any ideas?

Genjutsu

leadfarmer: Holy crap
That’s not Ahl level trolling
Probably not even ECHL level trolling

The definition of mediocre level?

OriginalPouzar

There has been discussion around the Raptors playing out of Kentucky this coming season.

I’m sure that’s far from plan A at this point but, with the NBA targeting January 18th to start the season, it doesn’t provide great optimism for any sort NHL schedule without that “Canadian Division” unless they do short term cycled tournaments.

CMcD4PM

Harpers Hair: The Oilers were .062 in winning percentage from being 20th in the league.

Got your calculator out real fast to write that snappy bon mot, bravo!

In a 31 team league that is the definition of mediocre.

leadfarmer

Harpers Hair: The Oilers were .062 in winning percentage from being 20th in the league.

In a 31 team league that is the definition of mediocre.

Holy crap
That’s not Ahl level trolling
Probably not even ECHL level trolling

defmn

Harpers Hair: The Oilers were .062 in winning percentage from being 20th in the league.

In a 31 team league that is the definition of mediocre.

Ah, the famous goal post moving move.

They were also .062 in winning percentage from finishing 6th overall.

That would better than good.

Is that how this works? We just arbitrarily re-write history in order to create narratives?

Harpers Hair

defmn:
Whoops. Damn that edit button.

The 12th highest winning %. The 9th most points when the season was called.

The Oilers were .062 in winning percentage from being 20th in the league.

In a 31 team league that is the definition of mediocre.

OriginalPouzar

Did I just read that Russell’s $4M cap hit this year somehow is relevant to determining the value of his new $1.25M contract?

Would I rather have Benning at $1M and $1M than Russell at $4M and $1.25M? Of course but that analysis is 100% meaningless.

(a) There was zero chance of having Benning at that contract, (b) even if Benning was had at that contract, that doesn’t get rid of Russell and his $4M and (c) there was zero chance of having Russell at that contract.

That response is a pure troll response. I’ve only ever used the word troll in relation to one person on the internet ever.

OriginalPouzar

LMHF#1: I don’t particularly care. Not relevant to me.

My ire is also targeted at the organization specifically.

There are very few people whose player evaluation I care about – or even read for that matter. Most people are awful at it.

Fair enough – you don’t have to care and, at the end of the day, its an opinion – noone is really “right” or “wrong”.

For me, if 99% of people have a different opinion on a player than me, I would think about the possibility that maybe my evaluation is off. Not saying everyone loves Russell or think he’s a legit top 6, many don’t, be VERY few seem to think of him as lowly as you.

No worries, your opinion.

defmn

OriginalPouzar: I would have been miffed at this signing a month ago, or maybe even 2 weeks ago as, in my opinion, moving Rusty for as much cap space as possible (or to fill a hole with a similar overpriced contract) was imperative.

Its been fairly evident for a while now that Rusty wasn’t going to be moved – that move would have happened earlier in the off-season.With Klef likely out for much of the years, I understand why Russell wasn’t moved (if was moveable and if Holland was even contemplating moving him prior to the Klef-bombshell).

In any event, given current circumstances, this move works just fine and comes with essentially zero risk for the 2021/22 season – ifthere is no roster spot for him, he can likely be moved post-expansion draft or simply buried in the AHL for a cap hit of an eighth of a million dollars.

Yup. The flat cap and the Klef announcement produced a perfect storm leading to Russell finishing his contract in Edmonton.

OriginalPouzar

From CapFriendly:

Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed the previous 60+ consecutive games due to an injury, do not meet the criteria set forth by the league in respect to the minimum exposure requirements for players, and in certain cases these players may even be deemed as exempt from the Expansion Draft selection process.

OriginalPouzar

Crazy Pedestrian:
I gotta ask. With Klefbom on LTIR for the next season, will he be exempt from Expansion protection requirements because he won’t have played any games in the previous Season?

Btw. For some reason this site won’t work at all on My phone Anymore when using wifi. Every other site is fine except this one. Phone says “ Cannot connect to website because my phone is not connected to the Internet” when in fact, it is.

Something going on in the background?

No, he won’t be exempt unless his injury is deemed “career threatening” and that’s not a surety for exemption either.

OriginalPouzar

Redbird62:
Is it possible the angst over the Russell signing is that even at a manageable contract with no clauses, it signals that Russell will likely be kept for the upcoming season while many were hoping that Holland would find a way to dump his salary by finding a taker from among the teams he does not list with his no trade list?Without getting in to the debate on his worth when he signed his 4 x 4 deal, he is clearly not worth that now.But you can only trade him based on what his perceived worth is now including the contract that goes with it.

I would have been miffed at this signing a month ago, or maybe even 2 weeks ago as, in my opinion, moving Rusty for as much cap space as possible (or to fill a hole with a similar overpriced contract) was imperative.

Its been fairly evident for a while now that Rusty wasn’t going to be moved – that move would have happened earlier in the off-season. With Klef likely out for much of the years, I understand why Russell wasn’t moved (if was moveable and if Holland was even contemplating moving him prior to the Klef-bombshell).

In any event, given current circumstances, this move works just fine and comes with essentially zero risk for the 2021/22 season – if there is no roster spot for him, he can likely be moved post-expansion draft or simply buried in the AHL for a cap hit of an eighth of a million dollars.

defmn

Whoops. Damn that edit button.

The 12th highest winning %. The 9th most points when the season was called.

defmn

Harpers Hair: Russell does not have a roster spot on a good NHL team.

Edmonton had the 9th best winning % in the league in the season that just ended and Russell had a roster spot on it.

What constitutes a “good team” is, of course, always open to discussion but there is a reason why they rank the 31 teams according to winning %.

defmn

LMHF#1:

There are very few people whose player evaluation I care about – or even read for that matter. Most people are awful at it.

Does that include you? 😉

Harpers Hair

OriginalPouzar: Everyone is entitled to their opinions and their opinions on player’s and their abilities and value to the team and while most do believe that Russell has many warts in his game, etc., I think your valuation of the player is an extreme minority opinion.

Is that something you are willing to acknowledge?Just wondering.

I definitely want Jones ahead of him at 5 on 5 and, from a high level, Lagesson as well (will need to see how his game is progressing) but your valuation of Russell is way lower than mine (and I think most others) and I see him a 6-7D.

Russell does not have a roster spot on a good NHL team.

Harpers Hair

leadfarmer: he only plays one side, was not on a regular pk unit, was not able to get more ice time than Russell and required a two year commitment
Thanks for the reminder
We got a really good deal

Not really.

The Oilers are paying Kris Russell $5.5 million for the next two season while Nashville is paying Benning a total of $2 million for the same two seasons.

Nashville wins that gambit every time.

That Tippet prefers Russell’s “veteran grit” is more an indictment of Tippet than it is of Benning.

The corollary of “get good players…keep good players” is “discard bad players.”

See Mike Smith for reference.

Holland has also re-signed Chiasson and Kassian.

Death by a thousand per cuts.

Same as it ever was.

LMHF#1

OriginalPouzar:
Is that something you are willing to acknowledge?Just wondering.

I don’t particularly care. Not relevant to me.

My ire is also targeted at the organization specifically.

There are very few people whose player evaluation I care about – or even read for that matter. Most people are awful at it.

Crazy Pedestrian

I gotta ask. With Klefbom on LTIR for the next season, will he be exempt from Expansion protection requirements because he won’t have played any games in the previous Season?

Btw. For some reason this site won’t work at all on My phone Anymore when using wifi. Every other site is fine except this one. Phone says “ Cannot connect to website because my phone is not connected to the Internet” when in fact, it is.

Something going on in the background?

Oddspell

OriginalPouzar,

Ah, my mistake. Hockeydb lists the league as “Swe-1” which I took to mean “top tier of Sweden”.

I was thinking how unbelievable it was for Lavoie to already be a top player for his team in the Swedish league. Him actually being in the second division makes sense.

barry.moore23

OriginalPouzar: I really don’t understand the intent of this post…..

I guess I meant I would agree with you that it’s awesome except for everything that has been awesome for the last 20 years has led us to where we are now. Somehow it gets all messed up. I think it’s because Oilers or something like that.

Redbird62

Is it possible the angst over the Russell signing is that even at a manageable contract with no clauses, it signals that Russell will likely be kept for the upcoming season while many were hoping that Holland would find a way to dump his salary by finding a taker from among the teams he does not list with his no trade list? Without getting in to the debate on his worth when he signed his 4 x 4 deal, he is clearly not worth that now. But you can only trade him based on what his perceived worth is now including the contract that goes with it.