American Hockey League

Bear hungry for spot on Oilers roster

Ethan Bear believes he’s never been more prepared to make the jump to the NHL.

“[I’m] way stronger and faster. I’m thinking quicker,” Bear commented when he was asked about his growth over the past year.

Bear, 22, admits he was his own worst enemy when it came to his development.

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“Just working hard every day — I never did it before. I wasn’t that smart before. I didn’t really understand it,” Bear admitted.

“I realized where I was at. If I want to make it, I have to do something every day. I have to be sure I’m trying to improve myself every day. I have to make sure I’m eating right.”

Bear played 18 games for the Edmonton Oilers late in the 2017-18 season. He suffered a shoulder injury early last season but still finished with 31 points in 52 games for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Along the way, the Condors enjoyed a 17-game winning streak.

“I think everyone was genuinely for happy for each other to succeed. I think that was a big part of it,” Bear said. “That was very fun to be a part of.

“To see the way guys work and develop, that was fun.”

Drafted in the fifth round in 2015, Bear was once one of the top blueline prospects for the Oilers. It’s now a much more crowded pool, with other young defencemen like Caleb Jones, Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov, Joel Persson, and William Lagesson all hoping to crack the Oilers roster soon. Plus, the Oilers drafted Philip Broberg in the first round in June.

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“They’re new, young draft picks. When I was coming up out of junior, I was hyped too. It’s just the way it is,” said Bear, who was named the WHL’s top defenceman while with Seattle in 2014-15. “New GM, new everything. I have to make a good first impression. That’s all that matters to me.

“I really have no excuses. I’ve been working harder. I’ve been taking care of my body.”

Watch below: Some recent video about the Edmonton Oilers.

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