Tuesday was a busy day for the Edmonton Oilers. The club started with an early morning announcement that RFA D Ethan Bear had signed a new two-year contract. They ended the day with two PTO signings, adding a veteran NHL forward and an AHL defenseman to the mix.
Bear Is Back:
It took a little longer than everyone was hoping, but Ethan Bear is under contract and will be on the ice when the Oilers start training camp on Sunday. Bear finally broke through in 2019-20, playing 71 games in his first full season in the NHL. He scored 21 points (5 g, 16 a) and played a top-pairing role alongside Darnell Nurse.
Coming into the 2020-21 season, Bear is arguably the club’s best and most important right side option on defense. His importance to the club is only strengthened now that Oscar Klefbom is confirmed to be out for the entire season with a shoulder issue.
Bear played 21:58 per game last season, but could see those minutes eased a bit this winter. Adam Larsson is back healthy on the right side and should handle a majority of the shutdown minutes, while puck-moving ace Tyson Barrie will take a majority of the powerplay minutes and could see big five-on-five time with the McDavid and Draisaitl lines.
Bear will play a big role again this coming season. Odds are, he’ll again be paired with Nurse on the team’s top duo defensively. The increased depth at the position, thanks to Barrie and Slater Koekkoek’s additions, should help keep the minutes more manageable than they were a season ago.
The two-year contract carries an AAV of $2,000,000 and runs through the 2021-22 season. Bear will be a restricted free agent when the bridge deal is completed.
Shore, Stanton Sign PTO’s:
The Oilers announced that veteran center Devin Shore and defenseman Ryan Stanton will be in camp on Sunday. Stanton is entering his second stint with the Oilers organization, having played exclusively for AHL Bakersfield from 2017-19. He played last season for the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
Stanton enjoyed his best season with the Condors in 2018-19, scoring 20 points (5 g, 15 a) in 65 regular season games. He helped the development of young defensemen like Bear and Caleb Jones, while also guiding the Condors to their first Pacific Division title and playoff appearance. He played in ten postseason games that spring.
Stanton signed an AHL contract with the Condors this past summer.
It’s unlikely Stanton sees any NHL action, but he is a logical recall choice in case of injury. It’s possible that the Oilers keep him on their ‘taxi squad’ should injury or illness pop up during training camp. Stanton would require an NHL contract if he were to remain on the practice squad, which he does not have right now.
Shore, meanwhile, split last season between the Anahiem Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets. He was sent to Ohio at the trade deadline. In 45 total games last season, Shore scored 12 points (5 g, 7 a) and continued a consistent stretch of providing offensive depth.
Shore scored at least ten goals for three straight seasons (2016-19) prior to this past campaign.
Shore, a left-shot center, won 47% of his faceoffs this past season while averaging 11:39 per game. His possession numbers were rather poor however. He posted a 45% Corsi For (-3.0 rel) in 39 games with the Ducks and a 45.6% mark (-1.7 rel) in six games with the Blue Jackets.
Shore could be an interesting addition and I do think it is possible that he lands a contract with the club. Jujhar Khaira and Gaetan Haas were expected to fight for the fourth center spot, but Haas will be delayed due to a close contact exposure, while Khaira has struggled in each of the last two seasons.
It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Shore could come to camp and impress enough to beat out Khaira or Haas. Heck, he could even beat out both. His ability to play both center and wing gives him some versatility that coach Dave Tippett is likely to find appealing.