5 comparables for Ethan Bear’s next contract with the Canucks

Photo credit:© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
1 year ago
The Ethan Bear acquisition has been one of the best moves of the new management regime’s tenure so far. The right-handed defenceman was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes along with Lane Pederson for just a fifth-round pick. He’s now played 56 games with the Canucks and has managed three goals along with 13 assists.
Bear has had an interesting career path thus far, playing for three organizations already despite being just 25 years old. In Vancouver, it feels as if he’s finally found a home and carved out a role as a bottom-four defenceman. With his contract up this summer, the focus now turns to reaching an extension that will keep Bear on the west coast.
The Canucks are currently paying $1.8 million of Bear’s $2.2 million contract that he signed with the Hurricanes prior to last season after going to arbitration. When it expires this summer, he will become a restricted free agent that is once again eligible for arbitration.
While Bear hasn’t proved he’s a bonafide top-four defenceman quite yet, his results this year have been encouraging. He’s also already played almost 250 NHL games, a solid number for his age. Bear’s qualifying offer this summer stands at $2 million for a single season.
There are lots of defencemen around the NHL that have signed extensions from a similar position to the one that Bear currently holds. Here are five that were inked within the past few years that can serve as a rough guide for what Bear might get from the Canucks.

Dante Fabbro, RHD, Nashville Predators

Age and year when signed: 25 years old (2023)
Previous season stats: 74 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 PTS (not finished)
Contract details: 1-year, $2.5 million (3.03% of the salary cap)
Dante Fabbro is another right-handed defenceman that is very similar in age to Bear and just signed a contract extension about a month ago. At the time of signing, Fabbro had 56 points over 230 NHL games, very similar to the 63 across 246 that Bear has managed across his career thus far.
While Fabbro’s numbers this season don’t stand out, he did have 24 points across 66 games last season. In a similar fashion to Bear, he’s shown flashes of being a productive NHL defenceman but hasn’t quite been able to put it all together and become that legit second-pairing defenceman.
Fabbro signed a one-year prove-it deal worth $2.5 million in Nashville. If the Canucks were going to go with a similar short-term contract for Bear, the $2.5 million number feels about right as it offers a slight raise on his current deal.

Oliver Kylington, RHD, Calgary Flames

Age and year when signed: 25 years old (2022)
Previous season stats: 73 GP, 9 G, 22 A, 31 PTS
Contract details: 2-years, $2.5 million AAV (3.03%) 
Before this season started, the Calgary Flames and Oliver Kylington came to terms on a two-year contract worth an average of $2.5 million per season. The deal came on the heels of a breakout 2021-22 NHL season for Kylington in which he scored 31 points and established himself as a full-time NHLer.
While Kylington did have a more productive season leading up to his extension, Bear has a longer resume of NHL playing time to point at. The Calgary Flames defenceman had played just 168 career NHL games at the time he put pen to paper. This contract was reached following an arbitration hearing.

Nicolas Hague, RHD, Vegas Golden Knights 

Age and year when signed: 23 years old (2022) 
Previous season stats: 52 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 PTS
Contract details: 3-years, $2.294 million AAV (2.78%) 
Nicolas Hague signed this extension with the Vegas Golden Knights right at the start of this season. At 6’6″, he’s built in a different mold that Bear but has provided a similar level of value throughout his career thus far.
Hague’s contract has a unique AAV as it kept the Golden Knights just a few dollars under the salary cap. This likely means he took a bit of a discount to accommodate the team.
One difference to note between this contract and the one that Bear will sign this summer is that Hague will still be a restricted free agent when this deal expires. On the other hand, the Canucks are buying some of Bear’s UFA years. This may drive the price up slightly for the Canucks.

Andrew Peeke, LHD, Columbus Blue Jackets

Age and year when signed: 25 years old (2022)
Previous season stats: 82 GP, 2 G, 13 A, 15 PTS
Contract details: 3-years, $2.75 million AAV (3.33%) 
Andrew Peeke signed a three-year extension from a similar situation as Bear. Peeke was in his mid-20s and a restricted free agent when he came to terms on this contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has been forced to play big minutes because of the lack of defence talent in Columbus, a situation that Bear can relate to in Vancouver.
Peeke is a big defenceman that plays a physical brand of hockey. He’s not well-liked by the analytics community and his counting stats are not impressive, but he brings grit and toughness, attributes that many GMs love. Bear is very different in that his numbers are much better and the advanced stats like him, however in the NHL, these two players likely carry similar value.
If the salary cap goes up to $83.5 million next season, 3.33% would be $2.78 million. This seems to be near the higher end of what Bear might get if the Canucks do pay for three or more of his best seasons.

Gustav Forsling, LHD, Florida Panthers

Age and year when signed: 25 years old (2021) 
Previous season stats: 43 GP, 5 G, 12 A, 17 PTS
Contract details: 3-years, $2.67 million AAV (3.27%) 
Gustav Forsling represents one of the ideal development scenarios that Ethan Bear could follow. After the 2020-21 NHL season in which he scored 17 points in 43 games, Forsling signed this three-year extension with the Florida Panthers. He was 25 years old and had shown potential at the NHL level but had never touched 20 points across a full NHL campaign.
Since then, Forsling has blossomed into a great top-four NHL defenceman. He has back-to-back seasons with at least 10 goals and 35 points and is a big contributor for Florida. He now well overperforms this contract that he signed and is a steal at under $3 million per season.
If Bear can follow a similar development path, that would be a huge win for the Canucks. If he agrees to go with a three-year contract in the mould of this Forsling or the Peeke contract, between $2.25 and $2.75 million seems to be the landing spot.

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