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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Woogie63

Ethan Bear – had a good year last year, not a great year. A one or two year deal is the best move, if he slots higher than a 3-4-5 on a good team, he will get paid better, but if he is a 3-4-5-6 dman that is different play grade. Right now we don’t know what his consistent ceiling will be.

Elgin R

Bear has shown a maturity and dedication to his craft. There is no reasonable expectation that this will change given a long-term contract. Bear adjusted well and quickly to playing #1RD (as he had to with the Larsson injury). If there was cap available signing him long-term would be the play. However, the money is just not there (without significant roster moves) and therefore a 1-year contact allows Holland time to get the cap room and another year to evaluate the player.

Projecting Bear at $2.0 x 1, this years right-side D is = $9.917 with all contracts expiring at the end of the year. Another year on and the RD will be Bear, Bouchard and a vet? Say the vet is Barrie @ $4.5 x 3, Bear is signed long-term @ $4.5 x 8 and Bouchard is on his ELC at 0.9. The cost is $9.9 for the final two-years of Bouchard’s ELC. Another crunch will come after the 22/23 season – but Holland will have time to plan for this.

Bear is a keeper, sign him long-term asap.

oilersjo

RIP Spencer Davis A beauty

buck yoakam

oilersjo,

gimme some loving…i”m a man …stevie wildwood …absolutely !

Woogie63

Elgin R:
Bear has shown a maturity and dedication to his craft.There is no reasonable expectation that this will change given a long-term contract.Bear adjusted well and quickly to playing #1RD (as he had to with the Larsson injury).If there was cap available signing him long-term would be the play. However, the money is just not there (without significant roster moves) and therefore a 1-year contact allows Holland time to get the cap room and another year to evaluate the player.

Projecting Bear at $2.0 x 1, this years right-side D is = $9.917 with all contracts expiring at the end of the year.Another year on and the RD will be Bear, Bouchard and a vet?Say the vet is Barrie @ $4.5 x 3, Bear is signed long-term @ $4.5 x 8 and Bouchard is on his ELC at 0.9.The cost is $9.9 for the final two-years of Bouchard’s ELC.Another crunch will come after the 22/23 season – but Holland will have time to plan for this.

Bear is a keeper, sign him long-term asap.

Not Sure I completely agree with this point. LAST year the light went on for Ethan. His peer group for the Calder is Hughes, Makar, Fox and Marino. I don’t see him in the same neighborhood as the first three.

McNuge93

Woogie63: Not Sure I completely agree with this point.LAST year the light went on for Ethan.His peer group for the Calder is Hughes, Makar, Fox and Marino.I don’t see him in the same neighborhood as the first three.

Agree. Regression happens, and the right approach is a one year deal. Rather pay up more for what would be a more known commodity one year from now, than risk a long term deal and see him regress. If he really takes another step then moving on from Larsson is easier and that frees up more cap.

elgruntus

buck yoakam:
oilersjo,

gimme some loving…i”m a man …stevie wildwood …absolutely !

Keep on Running!

pts2pndr

Woogie63: Not Sure I completely agree with this point.LAST year the light went on for Ethan.His peer group for the Calder is Hughes, Makar, Fox and Marino.I don’t see him in the same neighborhood as the first three.

The long term signing out of entry level is the way to obtain value contracts. This requires the coaches and GM to evaluate correctly. This is part of a skill set they are payed handsomely to have.. Once the player has the track record of value there are no or few value contracts to be had. Stupid GM’s or panicky GM’s pay for these players best years on their retirement contracts wether by bringing them on board as UFA’s or trading for them on anchor contracts.

Silver Streak

Woogie63: Not Sure I completely agree with this point.LAST year the light went on for Ethan.His peer group for the Calder is Hughes, Makar, Fox and Marino.I don’t see him in the same neighborhood as the first three.

Are you implying that Hughes or Makar will sign for anything close to $4.5 – $5.0 ? You are correct in that Bear isn`t in their peer group yet..but his cap hit won`t be either.

Primetime

McNuge93: Agree. Regression happens, and the right approach is a one year deal. Rather pay up more for what would be a more known commodity one year from now, than risk a long term deal and see him regress. If he really takes another step then moving on from Larsson is easier and that frees up more cap.

Totally agree.

Different situation than Petry, where giving him the one year deal walked him to free agency. We have time with Ethan, and going low on one year deal to see if he is for real is a smart move. The cap stays flat next year, so no huge new bargaining power, plus we will be able to have more cap flexibility.

Not that draft pedigree matters, but Klefbom was a top 15 pick and we knew he was going to be an excellent dman, so mitigated the risk to a longer term deal. We knew this from MacT’s 5 minute scouting report of course….

dustrock

I wonder if Bear’s usual will depend on Larsson and Barrie performance.

Theoretically possible Barrie plays over Bear. Not saying he’s a better d-man, and Tipp seems to like guys he knows, which may give Ethan an advantage.

But if they want Barrie to get McDavid 5v5 and PP1, I suspect he’ll have more TOI than Bear.

Brantford Boy

$23 million comes off the books…

Think of Chiarelli and Holland both shopping at Mark’s and Spencer’s… we all know Chiarelli would be grabbing the bangers and mash with extra warranty… where Holland would be stocking up on Christmas cookie sales in April. I have faith that Holland is going to give us a big ‘uh huh, that’s what you were up to’ moment next year… it starts with Bear and RNH extenions, what he’s got left over should be 13M. That’s a lot of Christmas cookies and enough left over for a trip down the “Halls” chocolate orange ball aisle.

Redbird62

Even without the cap issues created by COVID, I think the right play for the Oilers is a bridge deal for Bear. When the Oilers inked Klefbom in 2015, they believed they were locking up a guy at a reasonable contract with the potential to be that all situations number one guy. He was drafted in the first round because of his skill, size and skating, and was developing well on all fronts. Perhaps if not for significant and frequent injury problems, he might have continued to improve on the player the Oilers had in 2016/17. In hindsight, if the Oilers had bridged him for 2 years, he would have likely cost them $6 million or more per season based on his 2016/17. The fanbase already gets on Klefbom enough now based on his injury problems (what would that look like if he was making $6 million or more right now).

I really like Bear, I have been following him since the Oilers drafted him and was still pulling for him even in his injured second season in Bakersfield. I thought a lot of fans seemed to write him off at that point. Still, just watching him play, I think it is possible his upside might be limited in the NHL due to his lack of size to being a solid second pairing right D. If he was an elite skater, he might be able to easily compensate for his lack of size, but he is a good skater not elite. He is very good getting the puck out when he gets it cleanly, but he is vulnerable to the forecheck and does not yet win enough battles one on one. Maybe experience will allow him to use skill to win those battles more. I believe the Oilers need another season or two to see if Bear is a bonafide high end number 2 right D or potentially number D. If the contract is less than $2 million per year, I can see Bear only wanting a 1 year deal as well, since I believe his is arbitration eligible after next season.

Harpers Hair
Redbird62

Primetime,

The only added leverage Bear will have, assuming he plays as well or better than he did this past season, will be that he becomes eligible for arbitration which could take the final salary decision out of the Oilers hands. He will be at least 22 coming off his second contract with 2 years of professional experience so I believe that qualifies him for arbitration (based on capfriendly interpretation of the CBA).

pts2pndr

McNuge93: Agree. Regression happens, and the right approach is a one year deal. Rather pay up more for what would be a more known commodity one year from now, than risk a long term deal and see him regress. If he really takes another step then moving on from Larsson is easier and that frees up more cap.

Doing as you propose has gotten us into a situation with Nurse that team economics may determine whether we can keep him or lose him for nothing.it is far safer to gamble on a young player with upside than sign a pending UFA for term or trade for an anchor contract.

OriginalPouzar

Puckpedia putting out that they are hearing the Oilers are working on an extension with Kris Russell.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Puckpedia put out this type of tweet before but they are a legit site and I don’t imagine its done without real reason.

Ummmm, if true, ok, i guess – I mean it fills the expansion draft exposure requirement but…..

Eh Team

OriginalPouzar: Puckpedia putting out that they are hearing the Oilers are working on an extension with Kris Russell.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Puckpedia put out this type of tweet before but they are a legit site and I don’t imagine its done without real reason.

Ummmm, if true, ok, i guess – I mean it fills the expansion draft exposure requirement but…..

That’s Benning level of incompetence. Oilers player evaluation in action!

DBO

OriginalPouzar,

Friedman saying it looks like a 1 year deal. And yep, takes care of the expansion need, for vet dman exposed.

JimmyV1965

pts2pndr: Doing as you propose has gotten us into a situation with Nurse that team economics may determine whether we can keep him or lose him for nothing.it is far safer to gamble on a young player with upside than signa pending UFA for term or trade for an anchor contract.

The Nurse and Bear contract situations are not similar at all. Nurse signed his deal after more than 200 games in the NHL. His floor was established. Bear’s floor is not established. Regression is a real possibility.

OriginalPouzar

That was a sublime article on Barrie at The Athletic.

Its general premise lines up with what I’ve kind of being opining – for me, the Barrie add’s biggest potential isn’t the PP but at 5 on 5. He is a legit 5 on 5 driver from the back end – 8th in the NHL in 5 on 5 points over the last 3 years (and right up there last season after November 20 when Keefe took over).

He produces at 5 on 5 and he moves the puck forward among the best in the league – that is exactly what this team needs from the back end given their main offence at 5 on 5 is off the rush. He’s not high end defensively but he’s also not a black hole – the ability to play top 4 minutes at evens and he defends by getting the puck out with possession.

Of course, there will be wobble and he’ll run around in the own zone a bit and make mistakes – not unlike ALL of our other d-man, even defensively minded Adam Larsson.

I’m excited to see how Barrie helps the 5 on 5 offence this coming season.

LadiesloveSmid

Like this Russell extension is $800K right? Right? Right? Right????

I was so excited for him to be off the books, is Chiarelli supplying analytics that say he is good still?

OriginalPouzar

Sounds like the Russell extension is going to happen as Friedman is reporting that it will be one year.

This is clearly to ensure there is a d-man that meets the expansion draft exposure requirement – now, this best be at $1.2M or under with NO TRADE PROTECTION.

DBO

OriginalPouzar:
Sounds like the Russell extension is going to happen as Friedman is reporting that it will be one year.

This is clearly to ensure there is a d-man that meets the expansion draft exposure requirement – now, this best be at $1.2M or under with NO TRADE PROTECTION.

yep, yep, yep.

RonnieB

OriginalPouzar:
Puckpedia putting out that they are hearing the Oilers are working on an extension with Kris Russell.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Puckpedia put out this type of tweet before but they are a legit site and I don’t imagine its done without real reason.

Ummmm, if true, ok, i guess – I mean it fills the expansion draft exposure requirement but…..

That’s a huge but…
There is no way Seattle uses their pick on Russell, so the extension better be both cheap and easily moveable or we will have another roadblock on the left side next year for Broberg, Sammy, Lagesson, etc.

defmn

OriginalPouzar:
Sounds like the Russell extension is going to happen as Friedman is reporting that it will be one year.

This is clearly to ensure there is a d-man that meets the expansion draft exposure requirement – now, this best be at $1.2M or under with NO TRADE PROTECTION.

“A busy morning, TSN1260, maybe we’ll have an Oilers signing to discuss.”

———————————

So our host here is an insider after all. 😉

DBO

RonnieB,

below $1.2 means it can buried in the minors. So less then that and no trade or movement protection is key. he should just be happy to get a deal, cause there will be a lot of other 3rd pairing dmen looking for minimum contracts next year in a flat cap world.

OriginalPouzar

Ya, I don’t see the long term deal happening for Bear this off-season and, frankly, I don’t think i’d be happy with a number approaching $5M at this point. There could be a flatish cap for 4-5 years of that deal.

YKOil

I predict somewhere between $1.8 and 2.4 million for Russell.

DBO

YKOil,

vomit. man I hope not. looking at signings recently. Ceci got $1.2, Forbort $1 mill. No reason to be higher then them,…. but Oilers……

Munny

YKOil:
I predict somewhere between $1.8 and 2.4 million for Russell.

$1.8 to 2.2 was what went through my head on hearing the news.

Be nice if he can swing it for less, but we’ll see.

Elgin R

OriginalPouzar:
Puckpedia putting out that they are hearing the Oilers are working on an extension with Kris Russell.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Puckpedia put out this type of tweet before but they are a legit site and I don’t imagine its done without real reason.

Ummmm, if true, ok, i guess – I mean it fills the expansion draft exposure requirement but…..

Ok, so the Oilers need a defenseman to expose for the expansion draft. Nurse, Bear, Jones will be protected. If Kelfbom misses the entire season and is still on LTIR, does he need to be protected? Assuming that he doesn’t, the Oilers will need a defenseman to meet the draft criteria.

‘One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.’

This move would suggest that they do not think Lagesson will play half the year in the NHL. Injuries happen, and in the upcoming compressed season even more probable that they occur meaning that the Oilers will need at least 4 x LD. Does this telegraph that Broberg will make the team after the WJC? So KRusty @ $1m x 1 it is.

OriginalPouzar

Bouch with a PP goal as Sodertalje is up 4-1 in the 2nd.

Sammy not in the lineup for Moscow today – Maksimov is – they are down 2-1 in the 2nd.

RonnieB

Brantford Boy:
$23 million comes off the books…

Think of Chiarelli and Holland both shopping at Mark’s and Spencer’s… we all know Chiarelli would be grabbing the bangers and mash with extra warranty… where Holland would be stocking up on Christmas cookie sales in April.I have faith that Holland is going to give us a big ‘uh huh, that’s what you were up to’ moment next year… it starts with Bear and RNH extenions, what he’s got left over should be 13M.That’s a lot of Christmas cookies and enough left over for a trip down the “Halls” chocolate orange ball aisle.

Don’t forget that Yamamoto is also an RFA next year. People often overlook the implication that salary coming off the books means there are more positions to be filled with the available money.
At this time the Oilers are projected to have ~$29.5 available Cap space. Even after extending RNH, Bear, and Yamamoto (it wouldn’t stretch the imagination for those 3 to take up half of the available Cap), they will only have 9 forwards, 4 defensemen and 1 goalie under contract with only ~$15 million left to sign 4 more forwards, 4 more defencemen and a backup goalie.

OriginalPouzar

John Shannon is reporting that the Rusty one-year extension is done – no terms though.

OriginalPouzar

$1.75M – high.

Elgin R

JimmyV1965: The Nurse and Bear contract situations are not similar at all. Nurse signed his deal after more than 200 games in the NHL. His floor was established. Bear’s floor is not established. Regression is a real possibility.

Bear’s floor has absolutely been established as a 2nd pair RHD. Bear has already played significant 2nd pairing / 1st pairing minutes. The ‘sophomore slump’ does happen, but I would suggest that it is more prevalent with younger players that were rushed to the NHL. This is not the case with Bear. Bear has improved every year since drafted, with the exception of the injury year, and therefore further improvement is the expected outcome. Assumption of regression is a pessimistic based on a general view of young players, not facts available for the specific player.

Nurse was sheltered as a 3rd pairing LHD during most of his ELC and showed great promise and potential to be a 2nd pairing LHD, maybe even 1st pairing. Not locking him up was short sighted. Holland needs to get Bear signed long-term now or on a 1-year contract and do the long-term contract next off season.

LMHF#1

I’m off to go break things.

This team is so stupid it actually hurts.

And we will continue to have to watch this bonehead play terrible hockey.

theres oil in virginia

That’s an excellent article by Bruce McCurdy. It’s got the kind of info and insight that I’m looking for being out of the loop way down here in Ole Virginny!

It’s sometimes hard to figure out who these players are without spending much time researching them. Hearing the coach’s view, the “critic’s” view and Bruce’s view mixed in as well and I got a good feeling about how the new hires fit.

Hopefully Klefbom can figure a way to get healthy without getting carved up. That (surgery) often doesn’t end up well. This could be a good team next year.

Munny

theres oil in virginia,

Dude… it’s been like forever!

Good to see you post.

Sierra

DBO:
YKOil,

vomit. man I hope not. looking at signings recently. Ceci got $1.2, Forbort $1 mill. No reason to be higher then them,…. but Oilers……

This ^^^^

Cassandra

OriginalPouzar:
$1.75M – high.

That is simply an absurd number.

Veteran players in their thirties are going to be playing for the league minimum this year. Why would you double that and commit a year in advance? Just to fulfill the expansion requirement? That makes no sense.

They only need Russell if they protect 4 D. If they protect 4 D they will lose either Yamamoto or Puljujarvi. Why commit this money now before you know what the situation will be?

You can always pick a contract up to fulfill the expansion requirements. I’m pretty sure that contract will cost less than this.

Sierra

Cassandra: That is simply an absurd number.

Veteran players in their thirties are going to be playing for the league minimum this year.Why would you double that and commit a year in advance?Just to fulfill the expansion requirement?That makes no sense.

They only need Russell if they protect 4 D.If they protect 4 D they will lose either Yamamoto or Puljujarvi.Why commit this money now before you know what the situation will be?

You can always pick a contract up to fulfill the expansion requirements.I’m pretty sure that contract will cost less than this.

Exactly. It’s nonsensical. There is absolutely no need for this to be done now or at that price.

To steal Woodguy’s line, “the Oilers making decisions based on things other than winning.”

OriginalPouzar

Gregor reporting between $1M and $1.5M and, of course, no NMC.

A NMC would defeat the entire purpose of the deal.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be some trade protection via a M-NTC – I would expect there would be (although shouldn’t be).

LMHF#1

Cassandra,

Because the Oilers are primarily run by abject morons who think they’re smart.

who

Redbird62:
Even without the cap issues created by COVID, I think the right play for the Oilers is a bridge deal for Bear. When the Oilers inked Klefbom in 2015, they believed they were locking up a guy at a reasonable contract with the potential to be that all situations number one guy.He was drafted in the first round because of his skill, size and skating, and was developing well on all fronts.Perhaps if not for significant and frequent injury problems, he might have continued to improve on the player the Oilers had in 2016/17. In hindsight, if the Oilers had bridged him for 2 years, he would have likely cost them $6 million or more per season based on his 2016/17.The fanbase already gets on Klefbom enough now based on his injury problems (what would that look like if he was making $6 million or more right now).

I really like Bear, I have been following him since the Oilers drafted him and was still pulling for him even in his injured second season in Bakersfield.I thought a lot of fans seemed to write him off at that point.Still, just watching him play, I think it is possible his upside might be limited in the NHL due to his lack of size to being a solid second pairing right D.If he was an elite skater, he might be able to easily compensate for his lack of size, but he is a good skater not elite.He is very good getting the puck out when he gets it cleanly, but he is vulnerable to the forecheck and does not yet win enough battles one on one.Maybe experience will allow him to use skill to win those battles more.I believe the Oilers need another season or two to see if Bear is a bonafide high end number 2 right D or potentially number D. If the contract is less than $2 million per year, I can see Bear only wanting a 1 year deal as well, since I believe his is arbitration eligible after next season.

Excellent post.
Good description of Bears current game.

DBO

Gregor saying between $1 and $1.5, without any movement protection

OriginalPouzar

RonnieB: That’s a huge but…
There is no way Seattle uses their pick on Russell, so the extension better be both cheap and easily moveable or we will have another roadblock on the left side next year for Broberg, Sammy, Lagesson, etc.

Its not about Seattle taking Rusty its about him filling the requirement of exposing at least one d-man that is under contract for 2021/22 that has played 70 games over the prior two years or 40 the prior year.

This allows them to protect Jones, Nurse, Klefbom, Bear – which they will want to do.

I was hopeful that Benning would be re-signed for this exact reason and, once that ship sailed, was hopeful that Lagesson deal would be two years as he could potentially play enough games.

At the rumoured ticket, the cap hit will be fine for 2021/22 and can be almost fully buried if his wheels fall totally off.

OriginalPouzar

Lavoie with a pair of 2nd period PP goals as Vasby is down 4-2 in the third. He continues to contribute to pretty much ALL their offence.

Willie L. continues to be an offensive dynamo with a PP assist on the other side.