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Capitals Trade Rumblings

Report: Ethan Bear Talks Start Up Again, But Are Capitals Still Interested?



Washington Capitals

After Justin Schultz and Michal Kempny left the team over the offseason, the Washington Capitals were looking for blue-line options and were reportedly interested in Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Ethan Bear. While Washington has since found replacements for its missing pieces, could the struggling team still have interest in the young defenseman?

Per The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Carolina is talking to “multiple teams” about the 25-year-old blueliner, who is on a one-year, $2.2 million contract. He has yet to dress for the Hurricanes this season.

In the offseason, the Capitals replaced Schultz with Erik Gustafsson and brought back Matt Irwin as the 7D. Also, they trusted in their depth with Lucas Johansen, Vincent Iorio, Bobby Nardella and more all down with the Hershey Bears. While Gustafsson has fit in well working alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk, the top-4 has been struggling. And overall, missed assignments, miscommunications, turnovers and bad reads on the blue line have cost Washington.

Taking that into account, head coach Peter Laviolette shook up the d-corps amid the slow start to the season. Dmitry Orlov is now playing with John Carlson, and Martin Fehervary is skating with Nick Jensen. While the new pairings are slowly coming together, there are still issues.

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Bear is a mobile, smooth-skating defenseman who can move the puck up ice and even join the rush. The 5-11 defenseman can also log a lot of minutes and kill penalties. Plus, he doesn’t shy away from sacrificing the body to block shots. He has to add more strength and still has room to show that he can be a shutdown guy in his own end. Still, he would fit in well with the Capitals’ systems as a puck-moving defender.

While a player like Bear would add a different look, there’s the question of who would draw out. Bear’s a right-handed defenseman, and there aren’t really any vacancies in the lineup. Every d-man on the roster is a regular. And though the only pair really working so far is Gustafsson-TVR, it’s hard to imagine any of the top-4 guys drawing out for Bear. Plus, there’s plenty of organizational depth, as Johansen, Iorio and Nardella are waiting for their NHL chance.

Also, Alex Alexeyev took a step forward in his recovery and is on a long-term conditioning loan to Hershey. He will return to D.C. after his stint in the minors, giving Washington another potential option at defense.

The reason for the trade for Bear is to give him the opportunity to play and fit in regularly. He can definitely provide a fresh look, and he has shown that he’s capable of a top-6 role and has a promising future. However, given the team’s depth, it’d be hard to imagine the Capitals bringing him on, let alone the Hurricanes going with that trade when he wouldn’t get the chance to play a bigger role.