Capitals could reportedly have interest in Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear is on his way out of Raliegh after not dressing in any of Carolina’s six games to begin the season.

One of the teams that could have interest in the 25-year-old blueliner is the Washington Capitals.

Here’s what Friedman had to say in his latest 32 thoughts column:

One defenseman whose situation is coming to a head is Ethan Bear. Players want to play, and he hasn’t dressed yet this year. It’s nothing nefarious, Carolina’s doing what it thinks is best, but he can’t be happy and it’s really hard when you don’t play a game like the one in Edmonton — since you always want to prove your former team to be wrong.

After mentioning it last weekend, a couple of sources indicated there was a trade request last summer. The Hurricanes’ position on this is as follows: they consider Bear a legit NHL defenseman and, since they don’t have cap issues, won’t eat part of his salary for “minimal return.” It’s possible Bear ends up on waivers to see if anyone claims him, and word is he would go to AHL Chicago, just because he wants to play. Vancouver’s show real interest. Washington did around the draft. It’s believed Toronto’s poked around too. I’m sure there are others, we will see how it ends up.

Bear played in 58 games for the Hurricanes last season. Carolina acquired the defenseman in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers over the 2021 offseason for forward Warren Foegele. The Canes signed the restricted free-agent defenseman to a one-year, $2.2 million contract this past summer.

It’s possible that the Bear-sized hole on the Capitals’ defense is no longer a hole after the team signed Erik Gustafsson as an unrestricted free agent. But, the organization is still weak on the right side defensively — at least in terms of NHL-ready talent — and a waiver claim would cost them nothing. The team is also hemorrhaging shots in front of the net.

If Bear were to arrive in DC, it’d likely have to come at the expense of one of the team’s extra forwards. Players like Beck Malenstyn and Joe Snively would need waivers themselves to return to Hershey while someone like Connor McMichael is still waivers exempt. Matt Irwin is currently the seventh defenseman on the NHL roster but is a lefty.

Screenshot via Carolina Hurricanes

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