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What to expect from Ethan Bear this summer

Ah, Ethan Bear.

A fifth-round pick turned regular NHL’er, Bear has been nothing short of a revelation in his rookie season. At 22-years-old, he stepped in playing a second-pairing role with Darnell Nurse scoring 21 points in 71 games.

Not only did he contribute strong offence for a rookie rearguard, but he also helped steady a veteran in Nurse — far from the norm for a rookie to do. He became a rock for the Oilers on the backend with solid isolated defensive impacts with the majority of time played against elite competition, according to puckiq.com.

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He progressed well, and quickly, taking on more and more minutes as the season went on. This is all really encouraging for the young Oilers defenceman who will surely be a big part of the Oilers blueline for a long time.

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Against Chicago and into the playoffs

Against the Blackhawks in the play-in tournament, I see Bear continuing in his second pairing role alongside Darnell Nurse. I can see the Oilers deploying this pairing against the Blackhawks first line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik, as reported by dailyfaceoff.com.

I think these two will match up better against that line than the line of Alex Nylander, Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane, who I think the Oilers will match Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson against. The Oilers third pair, whoever that will be, should easily handle either of the Blackhawks bottom-six players.

Bear will likely continue to see time on the Oilers penalty kill. There he played the third-most minutes among Oilers rearguard and had strong success. I don’t expect that to change at all.

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Ethan Bear will spend his time doing what he’s done best this year — moving the puck and playing solid defence. It doesn’t sound like much, but his two-way play has been really good for the Oilers. Like, a breath of fresh air really good.

I’m a big Bear fan, and to be honest, I have fairly big expectations of what’s to come from him. He plays a very good solid game and shown he can be a strong regular contributor in the Oilers lineup. He’ll continue to push 24 minutes a night as he did towards the end of the season.

On Twitter: @zjlaing