NHL Rumors: 3 Landing Spots For Free Agent Ethan Bear

Now just two to three weeks away from a return, free agent defenseman Ethan Bear could offer a nice piece for a blueline in need. He's nearly recovered from shoulder surgery necessitated in the summer after an injury at the World Championships playing for Canada. The injury caused the Vancouver Canucks to non-tender him. 

Let's have a look at three teams that seem to be the most likely landing spots for the 26-year-old blueliner. 

Edmonton Oilers

While the Oilers have turned things around of late with four straight wins, they're still looking for some help on the back line, and perhaps a reunion could be in order. Bear was originally a 5th-round pick of Edmonton in the 2015 NHL Draft and spent his first three seasons there, including a breakout 2019-20 season in which he played all 71 games and notched 21 points while playing 22 minutes a night. However, due to a complete lack of cap space in Edmonton, he'd probably have to take a minimum deal to return to the scene of his best NHL success.

Toronto Maple Leafs

A team that is clearly looking for help on defense, Bear would be a nice add for Toronto, though the question of cap room is an issue here as well. With no decision on the future of injured John Klingberg as of late Saturday afternoon, and an intention to bring in another higher-priced blueliner (e.g. Chris Tanev?) via trade, the cap situation is tricky. Bear had a  $2.2M cap hit last season.

Vancouver Canucks

As mentioned, the Canucks were forced to non-tender him after it was apparent he wouldn't be ready for the 2023-24 season, and the team needed the cap space for other moves. But a reunion here is certainly not out of the question, even though the team just brought in a $3.75M cap hit in Nikita Zadorov. They still have over $2.8M in cap room at the moment, so he could be a fit. 

Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports