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Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones are up with the big club together after working through the Oilers system over the past few years

by Paul Gazzola /

LAS VEGAS, NV - Everything is better with a friend.

Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear are living proof.

Bear and Jones are navigating the National Hockey League game together years after being drafted seven picks apart in the 2015 NHL Draft. 

The two were combatants in the Western Hockey League, with Bear being a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds while Jones a Portland Winterhawk, and have cultivated their game as Condors in Bakersfield. 

And now, finally, they have seen the fruits of their labour come to fruition with the Oilers.

"It's crazy," said Jones. "After our first game in Edmonton, we kind of looked at each other at the end of the game. I think we beat Colorado. We were just like, 'Wow. We just played a game in the NHL together.'

"He's been a friend since we got drafted seven picks apart."

There's been no shortage of applause from teammates. Even veterans, like NHL Time On Ice leader Oscar Klefbom, showed love for the two young defenders.

Video: RAW | Caleb Jones 11.22.19

"I'm very happy of their development," Klefbom said. "Look at a guy like Ethan Bear. He has so much poise out there even though he hasn't played that many games in the big Leagues. 

"I'm very impressed by them both in how they manage the game and how they play. It's not easy." 

In 24 games, Bear has accrued three goals and four assists for seven points. Jones, meanwhile, has yet to register a point this season. 

The fact that a pair of drafted and developed defencemen have become part of the Oilers lineup wasn't lost on Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett Friday.

"It gives the team depth and it's homegrown depth," Tippett said. 

"Defencemen are hard to find in this League. If you can grow your own, that's a big bonus. We have got some young players coming who really have some bright futures. For them to jump in and play the minutes they have been, it shows well for the organization."

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