The Washington Capitals have been linked to Ethan Bear who formerly played with the Vancouver Canucks, a defenseman, reported Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet during a Saturday Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Friedman says the Capitals have made a “strong bid”:
"It looks as if Ethan Bear is getting close to resuming his NHL career or at least picking a team that he’s going to do it with. There’s a number of other clubs that suspect that the Washington Capitals have really made a strong bid here. Nothing official at this time but it is believed the Capitals have made a legitimate run at him. I did think when this process began that Vancouver had the advantage but there’s just other teams out there who can do what Vancouver can’t, cap and salary wise. We’ll see how that unfolds over the next few days."
Bear is a right handed defenseman and this isn’t the first time the Caps had shown interest in him as they gave him a look early last season. Friedman indicates that the Caps are pushing the hardest among the teams interested this time around.
After not receiving a qualifying offer from the Canucks over the summer, Bear is a free agent. Nobody has picked him up since. At the World Championships with Team Canada, Bear had a shoulder injury that required surgery. He hasn’t played this season as in addition to not signing anywhere he had to rehab the injury.
The Caps roster is full to the max at 23 and all defensemen are healthy. So if the Caps were to add Bear they would have to move on for somebody. While I wrote Joel Edmundson could be gone, Alex Alexeyev or Lucas Johansen could be the ones to go first as they’ve been recent healthy scratches.
What makes the situation more in question is that the Caps will have all three of their right side of defense signed through the 2025-26 season. Those three are big names in John Carlson, Nick Jensen, and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Another player Friedman noted the Caps could be interested in is Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko. He’s been a healthy scratch since Thanksgiving and played under 15 minutes of ice time in five of his last six games.
The Caps have just above $8.1 million in cap space with Nicklas Backstrom and Max Pacioretty on LTIR. With Pacioretty eyeing a return that complicates the equation more.