G77 Oilers vs Blue Jackets: Bear's Tryout
In the last game, as McDavid continued to surge forward in the scoring race, another player chased down one of his milestone moments – his first NHL goal. Ethan Bear, from Ochapowace Saskatchewan, scored his first goal in his 13th NHL game. He now has 4 points this year.
Ethan Bear has been an intriguing player for me since I first got to lay eyes on him in the rookie camps that featured a recently drafted Connor McDavid. Bear stood out defensively as one of the only players who wasn’t getting embarrassed by 97. Oh, he was still getting beat, but it wasn’t embarrassing. So that was the first time I noticed him.
Bear was 30th in WHL defensive scoring in his draft year, but he was 12th in goal scoring. He had a shot and was clearly an offensive minded young player. He has a little bit of a stocky build – definitely not big, but also not small. Still the Oilers found him in the 5th round of the draft and it has proven to be a strong pick. He’s almost assured to outpace his draft position in terms of expected return on investment.
In Draft +1 he climbed to 5th in WHL scoring by defensemen with 65 points in 69 games. He was passed over by Team Canada at the WJC but continued to push offensively. In Draft +2 he was 3rd in scoring by defensemen in the WHL with 70 points in 67 games. He also won the WHL Championship, had the most assists in the WHL playoffs, and was named Defenseman of the Year. Not a bad way to finish one’s Jr career.
This season as a rookie professional he quickly became Bakersfield’s top offensive defenseman, but missed a fair amount of time to injury. Bear recorded 6-10-16 in 34 games this year with Bakersfield, which is the highest points per game on their blueline (reminder that Laleggia is actually a forward).
During his time in the NHL, the Oilers have been playing a lot of “Risk Free Hockey” in the sense that the games simply don’t matter. They may have only recently been mathematically eliminated, but this team has been out of the playoff picture for 2 months. Ethan Bear has shown a lot of offensive potential and he’s clearly programmed to attack, but he’s also been shelled a bit in his own zone.
Bear has the lowest CF% on the Oiler defense at 44.1% through 207:16 5v5. Yes, it’s worse than Sekera, who has one leg and Russell who can’t defend. The same is true for his FF%, SF%, and SCF%, but his GF% is actually only 2nd last because Sekera is cursed. He has played the most minutes with Russell, which is no easy task for any Rookie. However, for all the positives in Bear’s game, he probably isn’t ready for primetime and that’s OK.
Ethan Bear is showing lots of promise during this preview of what the NHL is like for him. He’s getting special teams time, some offensive opportunities, and he’s already scored his first goal. What the Oilers want and need from him is furthered development. Even if Bear has already delivered on his draft status, he has a ways to go before he finds himself an NHL regular and top 4 mainstay. That’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves. For now, I’m enjoying his journey.
RNH McDavid Rattie
Caggiula Draisiatl Aberg
Lucic Strome Puljujarvi
Pakarinen Khaira Slepyshev
OILERS KEYS TO THE GAME
1) One Hundred. Connor McDavid sits at 99 points but for how long? It’s not “if”, but “when” it happens. The league’s leading scorer has been on a vicious tear through opposition defenses and goaltenders lately. He wants 100. He wants to guarantee the Art Ross. He should probably be getting more serious Hart Trophy consideration but Chiarelli blew it and he may have to settle for the Ross and the Lindsay. Will point 100 on the season be his 40th goal or his 61st assist?
2) Bread Man. Artemi Panarin is far and away the Blue Jackets best offensive player. He is, somehow, 30 points better than 2nd place among CBJ forwards (Pierre-Luc Dubois). The next closest player in general is Seth Jones, who is having a Norris-type season – or at least he’s putting himself in the conversation. When Panarin was acquired by the Blue Jackets, it was clear that they were getting a good player, but he had never been “The Guy” on an NHL team. The Hawks had Kane and others surrounding him who varied been great to good. In Columbus, Panarin has proven that he’s a driver in the league.
3) Nine, One, and Oh. The Columbus Blue Jackets have been tearing up the NHL lately going 9-1-0 in their last 10 games. This club since the trade deadline has found a way to gel and move forward very well. That said, their record indicates they love a home-cooked meal much more than they do feasting on the road. They are 25-12-2 at Home and just 17-17-3 on the Road. They are just a .500 team away from Ohio. Let’s see if Edmonton cant drop them below .500 on the road tonight.
Puck drops tonight at 7PM Mountain Time on Sportsnet West. Game On!
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