2.) Ethan Bear
If the Avalanche choose to go the free agency route to fill this need, they can look at a player like Ethan Bear. The 5’11” 197-pound defenseman was drafted by Edmonton in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, a round after Jones ironically.
Prior to being drafted, Bear had a prolific career with Seattle in the Western league, averaging almost a point per game in 2015-’16 and over a point per game in 2016-17. Bear played a little more than half a season with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate in 2017-18 and has only played 52 more AHL games since.
During his time in the NHL, Bear has seen some injuries, having logged only one season of more than 71 games played. During that season, Bear chipped in five goals to go along with 16 assists to total 21 points. Bear also totaled 33 penalty minutes that season. In 2021-22 Bear totaled 14 points in 58 games with Carolina, and totaled 16 points with Vancouver in 22-23 in 61 games.
It is said by scouts that Bear plays a physical game and sees the ice well. Those are two qualities the Avalanche could use, and he bears a resemblance size-wise to Girard. The Avalanche will be difficult to play against if they add a player like Bear to team with players like Toews and Josh Manson already in the lineup.
As he is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, this addition may be a bit of a gamble or even premature, but Bear would be a nice addition to the team now and in the future. The 26-year-old from Saskatchewan has plenty of tread left on his tires to help a team moving forward.
As Bear is likely to have several suitors, the Avalanche may need to be creative in opening up money to sign him.