I went to most of the Calgary Hitmen home games this season and I saw a lot of Jake Bean.
My really brief assessment? Man, the kid has some talent. He’s the son of the Flames COO, John Bean, and has obviously spent some time around the rink and gotten a chance to see first-hand what it takes to be a high-end Western Hockey League player and future NHLer.
But it’s easy to think that you know what it takes, and it’s super-hard to actually do it. Through two seasons in the Dub, Bean has emerged as one of the better puck-moving blueliners in the WHL and will likely be the first WHLer drafted in the 2016 NHL Draft. With the Flames owning the sixth overall selection, could Bean be a fit?
In a lot of ways, Bean is a junior hockey version of T.J. Brodie. He skates really well and does a great job jumping into the rush and creating offense from the back end. The Hitmen had the safety blanket on their roster of Flyers pick Travis Sanheim, but Sanheim was absent twice (once for the World Juniors and once due to an injury) and so Bean, at 17 years old, had to be “the guy” for the Hitmen. He occasionally made defensive gaffes – pinching at poor times and having to use his skating to cover his butt – but he made huge strides as a result of Sanheim’s absence.
Basically, if you want somebody to run your offense (and you perhaps have a decent all-around guy to play back a bit), Bean could be a great fit.
Here are some second opinions on Bean:
From Future Considerations:
Bean is a slick, pass first, puck moving blue liner who is absolutely
deadly in transition. He has quick feet that allow him skate with the
puck and the vision to quickly find his passing options. Has solid
composure and will calmly skate the puck out of pressure before head
manning a pass up to streaking forwards. His defensive ability needs
work as right now it consists of an active stick he uses to try to shut
down opponents as they’re coming down wide on the rush. Needs some added
strength and to improve his defensive positioning.
shifty and intelligent defenceman that plays with panache and poise. An
excellent skater that is a good puck-carrier up the ice. Makes very
good decisions with and without the puck, and plays strong positionally.
Works hard and doesn’t give the opposition much to work with, but could
stand to be a bit more assertive during high pressure situations. That
being said, he is not a one dimensional player. He displays natural
talent in the offensive end, but also plays a complete defensive game in
his own end. He has a proactive stick and boxes the opposition out,
limiting lanes. All-in-all, the type of all-around defenceman that you
want to have on the ice as much as possible.
When you take a look at Bean’s numbers, he stacks up pretty well compared to the rest of the WHL blueliners. He had 43 primary points, behind only Brandon’s Ivan Provorov (47) and Macoy Erkamps (44) and Hitmen teammate Sanheim (44). Comparing him to the other draft eligible blueliners, he’s way, way ahead: Medicine Hat’s David Quenneville had 38 primary points, Kelowna’s Lucas Johansen had 27 and Swift Current’s Maxime Lajoie had 21.
When you knock out power-plays, Bean still stacks up really well in primary points (he’s actually the top draft-eligible even-strength primary point defenseman by a country mile). He’s slightly behind Provorov and Erkamps, and was even in even-strength primary points with Red Deer’s Haydn Fleury (a past first round selection).
Bean led the WHL’s defensemen in goals with 24, with half of his production on the power-play.
FIT WITH THE FLAMES
Bean’s really good, but there are a few “fit” concerns.
First, he’d be a bit of a stretch at sixth overall. The Flames likely value the elite offensive talents of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Matthew Tkachuk and Alexander Nylander more, and arguably Mikhail Sergachev, Olli Juolevi and Jakob Chychrun are more well-rounded blueliners. If they take Bean, it’d be taking him ahead of probably five to eight guys that are seen (via consensus) as better prospects right now than he is.
Second, he’s a puck-moving left-shot defenseman. The Flames already have Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Oliver Kylington, Jyrki Jokipakka, Ryan Culkin, Brett Kulak, Tyler Wotherspoon and Brandon Hickey. Left-shooting defenders is a strength area, so it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to grab another one too early in the NHL Draft.
Bean’s a really good WHL player who’s going to probably get drafted in the middle of the first round this season. The Flames’ depth at defense likely sees them draft a forward at sixth overall and short of them getting a great offer to trade down, I can’t see Bean still being available the next time they hit the podium.