UFA Ethan Bear Reveals Latest Injury Status & Return Timeline

This summer hasn't gone exactly as planned for Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear. After playing out his contract at the end of the season, he went off to play for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships in May. But the worst-case scenario for a free agent occurred, as he sustained an injury that will keep him out through the start of the 2023-24 season. 

Bear had to undergo shoulder surgery, and this week he revealed his latest status, telling Canucks Insider Patrick Johnston that he's doing better than expected in his recovery. 

“The shoulder’s doing really well,” said Bear. "I’m gonna take my time and make sure that I don’t rush it. I probably won’t be back until December, though looking at it, I’m probably a little ahead of schedule.”

But while he continues his rehab, there's still the little matter of a contract for the coming NHL season... He doesn't have one. 

In fact, after his injury at the Worlds, the Canucks declined to make him a qualifying offer (which would have been $2.2M), making him an unrestricted free agent. 

And although he'd still like to return to Vancouver, there are other teams that have checked in on him, and he understands that it's a business.

“I would love to come back to the Canucks. I would love to. But that’s how the business goes. I was talking with (GM) Patrik (Allvin) and he told me himself, ‘We have to clear some cap space,” Bear said.

“I’m not anxious or really worried at the moment. For me, I get all this time to really take care of my body and get it to where I want it before I have to start competing again. I see it as a blessing, not a curse.”

Since being selected in the 5th round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, Bear has played five years in the NHL, and this past season in Vancouver, he notched 16 points in 61 games with a plus-6 rating. 

Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports