When it comes to offseason decisions for the Edmonton Oilers, the biggest remaining choice that we’re all watching is what Ken Holland and Ethan Bear will settle on when it comes to his next contract. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Saturday Edition), I want to know how you’d handle a new deal for a guy that is arguably the Oilers’ best right-handed defenceman.
From where I blog, there is little doubt in my mind that Ethan Bear was one of the best surprises for the Edmonton Oilers from this past season, and that makes this upcoming contract an interesting decision for Ken Holland. The Oilers have been looking for a puck-moving, right-shot defenceman, that can handle top-four minutes for much of this Infinibuild® and the fact that Bear developed into one so quickly was a huge win for the franchise. If you remember back to last summer, most people didn’t even think he would make the team out of camp and he ended up being one of their best defencemen.
In 2019-20, no rookie defenceman averaged more time on ice than Ethan Bear (21:58), which is certainly surprising considering that two defencemen (Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes) were nominated for the Calder Trophy. And even though his point totals couldn’t match those posted by Hughes and Makar, it is worth noting that he didn’t get a lot of powerplay time either. Even so, Bear finished fifth among rookie defensemen in even-strength points and that makes me wonder how much more offence he still has yet to bring to the table. So when it comes to his next contract, the question I have for you today is what you’d be willing to pay on a short-term bridge deal that makes sense for both the player and the team.
When I wrote about Ethan Bear’s next deal in last week’s Random Thoughts, I said that I feel like a deal will get done sooner than later but wonder how far apart the two sides are in terms of what that looks like:
As we roll into November and Ethan Bear is still without a contract, I’m starting to wonder how far apart the two sides are on a new deal. That’s not to say that I think anything is wrong or that a deal won’t get done, but rather that I’m curious where both sides are at with the negotiations. Pre-COVID, I was hoping that Ken Holland would look to extend him longterm at a lower cap hit just like Chiarelli did with Oscar Klefbom, but now that we’re riding through a flat cap, I don’t know how realistic that idea is anymore. My uneducated guess would be that we’re probably looking at a two or three-year bridge deal, which certainly makes sense but could end up costing the team a lot more money down the road, especially if he continues to develop the way we all hope. No matter what is decided, I hope the contract gets done sooner than later so that we can have one more unknown get checked off the list.
After thinking about it for a few days, I wonder if Ethan Bear’s camp might push for a one-year contract rather than a two or three-year deal as a means of betting on himself and potentially scoring a larger sum next offseason when some cap space frees up. In the summer of 2021, Adam Larsson and Alex Chiasson’s deals come to an end, Benoit Pouliot’s buyout comes off the books, and Kris Russell’s contract value drops by $2.75 million, so maybe it might make sense to put a bet down on a one-year contract? I mean, there’s little doubt that Bear will be a big part of the Oilers’ defence for the foreseeable future and I wonder if the flat cap will mean a different approach to this next contract? That’s where you come in. I want to know what you think Ethan Bear’s upcoming contract will look like and whether or not you think he may consider something like a one-year contract as a means of betting on himself?
What say you, Nation? In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Saturday Edition), I want to know what you think Ethan Bear’s will look like in terms of dollars and term?
BEAR’S CAREER SO FAR