Edmonton

Oilers sign defenceman Ethan Bear in midst of orientation camp

Ethan Bear, a 19-year-old right shot defenceman, signed a three-year entry-level contract today. The Oilers announced the signing at the start of the team's 2016 Orientation Camp.

'This feels really rewarding and to sign with Edmonton is a big honour,' said the 19-year-old defencemen

Ethan Bear might be a highly-touted Edmonton Oilers' prospect, but this week the 18-year-old is playing softball at the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games, which are taking place on his home on the Ochapowace First Nation. (Andy Devlin, Oilers Entertainment Group)

On Friday the Oilers signed a monster in Milan Lucic, and a day later they signed a Bear. 

Ethan Bear, a 19-year-old right shot defenceman, signed a three-year entry-level contract today. Bear was taken in the fifth round of last year's draft.

"It feels amazing, you know I worked very hard last season and the off season," said Bear at the 2016 Oilers orientation camp. "This feels really rewarding and to sign with Edmonton is a big honour."

Standing at 5 feet and 11 inches Bear isn't the biggest player in the Oilers system, but he put up massive numbers with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League last season. 

Bear posted 65 points, 19 goals and 46 assists, leading all Seattle defencemen in scoring. It was one of the Thunderbirds' best seasons on record making it all the way to the WHL finals. 

"Our team really came together early in the season," said Bear. "Myself, I tried to keep consistent and work harder every day. I had a lot of areas to improve on so I think that was huge for me." 

Getting their 'foot in the door'

Bear and other Oilers prospects were at Rexall Place on Saturday for the start of the Oilers 2016 Orientation Camp.

Tyler Benson was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press/File)

Jesse Puljujärvi, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, was there, as well as second round pick Tyler Benson, an Edmontonian who grew up cheering for the copper and blue.

"It's surreal I guess, growing up watching this team play and cheering for them and now to be a part of the organization, it's pretty special," said Benson. 

"Growing up watching this team play and cheering for them and now to be a part of the organization, it's pretty special.'- Tyler Benson

Another well-known name that attended the camp was highly touted collegiate star Drake Caggiula. The winger signed a two-year deal earlier this summer.

Caggiula played for the University of North Dakota and put up 25 goals and 26 assists in 39 games last season — he also took home the Most Outstanding Player award at 2016 NCAA Frozen Four tournament. 

The winger said that he is excited to finally focus fully on hockey now that his collegiate time is over.

"It's going to be a little different from college hockey, everyone is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter," said Caggiula. "There is going to be an adjustment period but at the same time I think I'm a quick learner."

Drake Caggiula celebrates North Dakota's win over Quinnipiac during an NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game. (Chris O'Meara/The Associated Press)

For now though, Caggiula and the rest of the gang at the orientation camp are focusing on making impressions on Oilers officials. 

"It's still an orientation camp, you're not going to make the team or get cut from the team at this camp," said Caggiula.

"At the same time though, it's good to get your foot in the door and show what you're capable of."

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