It looks like the Vancouver Canucks have officially lost the Ethan Bear sweepstakes.
On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals PR account on X posted that the Capitals are expected to sign Bear at a later date, and that he'll be joining the team for their Wednesday morning skate. They also noted that the defenseman is still in the process of rehabbing.
The Canucks were in hot pursuit of Bear during his rehab process as he got closer to playing shape, but Vancouver ultimately priced themselves out of a move. The Canucks used their trump card by trading Anthony Beauvillier to the Chicago Blackhawks, but then pivoted to acquiring Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames.
After acquiring Zadorov, the Canucks do have $3.691 million in cap space, but that is also including fellow defenseman Carson Soucy being placed on LTIR on Nov. 24. Effectively, the Canucks would not be able to afford to sign Ethan Bear if they planned on activating Carson Soucy, which they clearly do.
Bear, 26, was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks from the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 29, 2022, in a move that also brought Lane Pederson to Vancouver in exchange for only a 2023 fifth-round pick. In 61 regular season games with the Canucks last season, Bear scored three goals, 13 assists, and 16 points.
If or when Bear does officially join the Capitals, he will be playing for his fourth team in as many seasons. The 5-foot-11 blueliner spent 2020-21 with the Edmonton Oilers, 2021-22 with the Hurricanes, and 2022-23 with the Canucks. It's a shame that, despite all their interest, the Canucks were unable to re-sign Bear and make another upgrade to their defense corps.
For now, they'll have to rely on Zadorov and the rest of the crew. Perhaps an opportunity for Bear to return will come again at a later date.