Edmonton Oilers management and fans alike have reason to be excited about the development of rookie defenceman Ethan Bear.
Showing his offensive skills, Bear, who is only 23 years-old, from Ochapowace Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, recently placed fifth among rookies last year with 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists) and finished tenth in Calder Trophy voting.
Bear, who was drafted fifth round, 124th overall by Edmonton in the 2015 draft, starred for four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds before making his mark in the NHL.
After playing one game for Seattle in 2012-2013, Bear went on to excel in the WHL, where starting in 2013-2014, he would go on to play 263 games with the Thunderbirds scoring 66 goals and 192 points.
His fourth and final season in Seattle saw Bear put up a career high of 28 goals, 70 points along with an impressive +21 rating.
Following that WHL season, Bear played in the American Hockey League, where in 2017-2018, he continued to display his offensive upside by scoring six goals and 18 points in 37 games with the Oilers farm team the Bakersfield Condos.
That same campaign, Bear achieved the ultimate dream as he was called up in the NHL and made his debut on March 1. 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton. During that debut, which was a 4-2 loss against the Nashville Predators, Bear would play 22 shifts in total. He would go on to compete in 18 NHL games that year where he produced a goal and four total points.
“The nerves were right up there,” Bear said after that first game. “The excitement level was up there, to play a good team like Nashville was a good experience. I just got to get my feet moving a little more, keep moving the puck, but I thought it felt really good.”
Despite an impressive first impression with the Oilers, Bear spent the following campaign with Bakersfield and didn’t get back to the NHL until this past season, where he received some strong praise from his defense partner Darnell Nurse.
“Bearsy is always looking to learn, always looking to find ways to make his game better,” Nurse said. “That’s what made him so good this year.”
Showcasing his strength of moving the puck and strong defensive play, Bear solidified himself in Edmonton as a top four defenceman. When the league voting was completed for the Calder, which goes to rookie of the year, Bear received nine points ( a third, fourth and fifth place vote), which placed him 12 points behind this year’s winner, Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar.
Picture Cutline—This past season, Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear had a strong rookie campaign which saw him score 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists), while playing strong defensively. Bear got some votes for his strong season, as he finished in the top 10 for Calder Trophy voting.