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Ethan Bear to make NHL debut as Edmonton Oilers host Nashville Predators

Calgary Flames forward Marek Hrivik (46) is chased by Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear (74) as goalie Cam Talbot looks for the puck during first period NHL preseason split-squad hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday September 18, 2017. .
Calgary Flames forward Marek Hrivik (46) is chased by Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear (74) as goalie Cam Talbot looks for the puck during first period NHL preseason split-squad hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday September 18, 2017. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Defenceman Ethan Bear will make his NHL debut Thursday night when the Edmonton Oilers open a five-game homestand against the Nashville Predators.

“Guys were kind of joking with me, ‘Don’t be nervous. You’ve only worked 20 years to get here,'” said Bear. “Don’t think too negative. Don’t think just too much of it. Know the way you play and just go out and play. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

READ MORE: Commissioner Gary Bettman thrilled with Ice District progress; teases major NHL event in Edmonton

Bear, 20, was drafted in the fifth round, 124th overall in 2015. In the AHL with Bakersfield this season, he has six goals and 10 assists in 34 games. He missed about a month with a concussion earlier in the season.

“It’s about a tough a test in your first game asĀ  you can have when you play against the Predators. We’ll see where he goes with it,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said.

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Pontus Aberg will make his home debut for the Oilers. He was traded to Edmonton from Nashville on Sunday.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers trade Mark Letestu for Nashville winger

“I went out for dinner with a couple of guys last night,” Aberg said on Thursday. “It’s fresh, but it’s going to be fun to play them. They’re a good team. It’s going to be a lot fun out of there.”

Kris Russell, who missed Tuesday’s game in San Jose, will likely return to the lineup. Adam Larsson will miss the next two games as he’s returned to Sweden for his father’s funeral.

The Oilers expected lineup is:

Lucic – McDavid – Slepyshev

Cammalleri – Draisaitl – Rattie

Puljujarvi – Strome – Aberg

Caggiula – Khaira – Pakarinen

Nurse – Russell

Klefbom – Benning

Sekera – Bear

Talbot

The Oilers are 0-9-2 in their last 11 games against the Predators. Catch the game on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 5:30 p.m. The game starts at 7 p.m.

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