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Offer Sheeting Ethan Bear Unlocks Offseason for the Penguins

Could this addition make it easier for the Pittsburgh Penguins to subtract on their blue line?

It isn't very often that NHL general managers decide to offer sheet a restricted free agent, and even less often does it go through (twice since 2000). Still, that shouldn't deter Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall from going out on a limb this summer and offer sheeting Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear.

One thing about the Penguin's offseason is that they will need to get creative to build out next year's roster. So how does acquiring another defenseman help an already crowded blue line?

Ethan Bear is a 25-year-old right-handed defenseman who has shown the ability to handle a heavy workload during his time in Edmonton. He was traded to Carolina last offseason but hasn't been able to come close to terms on a new contract there. According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the Hurricanes are allowing Bear to talk to other teams to seek out a trade.

Per Evolving Hockey, Bear's next contract is projected to be two years and cost around $2.48 million per season. As always, offer sheeting for someone will usually cost more than the overall projection.

The Penguins should offer Bear a three-year deal worth $3 million, which would cost the team a second round pick in next year's draft. The earliest the Penguins can negotiate with Bear is next Tuesday.

Bear finished last season with only five goals and 14 points in 58 games. He was used sparingly late in the season and was a healthy scratch throughout the postseason. 

However, in the time he did play, Bear was able to produce decent underlying numbers. At even strength, the Saskatchewan native finished with a career-high in Corsi for percentage (56.59) and scoring chances for percentage (55.54).

Bringing in Bear would give the Penguins another option on the right side of their defense and allow them to comfortably shop John Marino, a player who has garnered interest from several other teams. Then the Penguins can worry about moving a left-handed defenseman (Marcus Pettersson) to make room on the NHL roster for youngster P.O. Joseph.

In doing so, the Penguins could clear around $4.4 million in cap space. That space can help improve the Penguin's forward lineup or save, giving the organization the flexibility to maneuver during the regular season.

With the NHL Draft and the opening of free agency almost here, plenty of moves are on the horizon.

Penguins Projected Blue Line

Matheson - Letang (assuming he signs)

Joseph - Bear

Dumoulin - Ruhwedel

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