What Jake Bean brings to the Calgary Flames

Photo credit:Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
18 days ago
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Free agency opened up July 1 as usual and throughout the entire league over $1 billion was committed to contracts. The Calgary Flames – and general manager Craig Conroy – played things safe not going too scorched earth on any signings.
One player they did bring in on the backend is son of former CSEC CEO John Bean and former Calgary Hitman, Jake Bean.
He wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer by the Columbus Blue Jackets to become a free agent and then signed a 2 year deal with an AAV of $1.75 million.

Offensive impact

A 13th overall pick from the 2016 NHL draft Bean had a reputation of being an offensive defenceman. His draft year saw him get 24 goals and 64 points in 68 games, he made two world junior team Canada’s, and also won a Calder cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2019.
He has produced at every single level he’s played at – except in the NHL.
Now the Blue Jackets haven’t exactly been team of the decade, but they still had top end players that could produce offence (I miss you, Johnny). Bean is in year 8 post-draft and if one was going to be a player with a significant impact in the NHL they would have shown it by now. Players don’t magically go from borderline to impactful at 26 years old.
He struggles to help maintain shot rates in the offensive zone which was his best trait coming through junior and the AHL. Maybe working with Calgary coaches can help improve this – but to say it’s going to be enough to get him to what his potential used to be is a stretch.
This is a 6/7 defenceman right now, and with the young talent in the Flames system coming up he had better show improvement quickly if he wants to keep his job.
Here is the positive, he’s shown a rate of improvement over the last two seasons. If he can show one more year of stability in Calgary he could be a safe guy for your 3rd pair. If he falls off he may be out of chances in the NHL.

Defensive impact

Seeing as Bean plays defence being able to at least limit chances at a replacement level needs to be the goal. The sG chart and the shot rate chart above both include/incorporate defensive metrics so we can see that the drive in improvement on sG wasn’t because of the offence – it was his ability to defend better that showed the spike.
Free agency this year saw a major trend – the little guy on the back end isn’t getting much in terms of dollars or opportunity anymore. Stanley Cup champions continually have 4-6 guys be sizable defenceman and it’s hard for the little guy to box out other physically dominant forwards.
Bean made quite the jump in the last two years – especially around his own crease – and has prioritized a focus on defending first. It’s improved his overall impact significantly. If he wants to have success and stay in the NHL through his 30s he needs to keep the emphasis on limiting shot rates and quality opportunities. The offensive stuff will come, but as a defenceman if you can’t do that well someone in the AHL is itching for the opportunity to replace you.
Ilya Solovyov, for instance, requires waivers now. If he shows a better ability to defend at 5v5 it won’t be long before the homegrown talent is playing games in Bean’s spot.
One last little defensive tidbit – if I’m comparing you to Cody Ceci and it makes sense that’s an issue. Ceci’s career has been similar to Jake Bean’s, but he holds his stick right-handed. A coveted ability some GM’s will blind themselves for (systematically, I completely understand it). Too many defensive gaffs will get you an early retirement. Poised, directed, systematic defending is essential if you don’t have the skills to be an offensive rover in the NHL.

Final thoughts

I think the wording in this Chris Johnston tweet says a lot
The Flames certainly need to hit the cap floor – an inflated AAV is no doubt a part of that – but there didn’t seem to be a lot of buzz or noise around Bean in the NHL. For him to get a day one offer, with two years, well above a buryable amount… it’s questionable.
Bean still has potential, but expecting him to be any form of top 4 defenceman would be naive. He is a depth piece that can help them get through the rebuild while letting their younger prospects develop. Zayne Parekh and Hunter Brzustewicz will be pressing hard for that offensive role sooner than later.

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