The WHL may not see any players drafted in the top ten this year, but Jake Bean is expected to be the top player from the league to be selected, as one of the better defencemen eligible. He’s completed his second season with the Calgary Hitmen, where he became the catalyst of the team’s offence.
He has displayed exceptional passing skills and puck movement in transition, and is a valued asset at both ends of the ice. His year was a back-and-forth of great months and good months, never really ceasing to put up points. He finished the season with a near point-per-game pace, and was the WHL’s top goal-scoring blue-liner.
Bean’s strengths are definitely his vision and ability to locate his teammates with precision passing in all three zones. He added 40 assists to his 24 goals in 68 games, which was a significant step up from his 5-34—39 in 51 games the previous year. He’s added a scoring touch to his passing, and is noted for having a very accurate one-timer. The combination of his passing and shooting skills with his ability to recognize which on to use in a given situation have made him a valued asset on the power play, where he earned half of his goals and just over half of his assists.
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta
Weight: 173 lbs.
Jake Bean is not an over-sized defender, and isn’t a physically dominating presence in his own end. He uses his foot-speed and his vision to mitigate risk in defensive territory, and when he creates turnovers or collects loose pucks, he is one of the quickest prospects at getting the play turned around and headed the other way. He can make breakout passes quickly and efficiently, though he also is a shifty skater and possesses the ability to skate the puck into the neutral zone.
Some scouts have noted that his skating isn’t always pretty to look at, but he is deceptively speedy. He accelerates quickly and can shuffle his way around opposing defenders. This helps Bean with his transition game, as he can keep away from forecheckers and rush the puck out of his own end.
Bean has found a scoring touch this past season and was the WHL’s top blue-liner with 24 goals. He netted 12 of these on the power play, where he became the Hitmen’s quarterback. Half of his goal total was scored in the first two months of the season, but he continued to put pucks in the net every few games through the end of the year. All of those pucks skills have made Bean a dangerous player and an attractive prospect.
Criticism of his play includes that he can sometimes make risky decisions, which can burn both Bean and his team. Habs fans will be familiar with this type of risk-taking via the play of one P.K. Subban. Like Subban or even Erik Karlsson, however, his possession, passing, and shooting abilities make his sometimes astounding plays worth the occasional giveaway.
It’s unlikely that he will grow to the elite level of the Norris Trophy-winning players he’s compared to, but if he’s paired with a sound defensive player on the second unit, he would make a terrific addition to any team looking to bolster its blue line.
Size and physicality are not trademarks of Bean’s game. He relies on his skating to remain elusive and avoid being on the receiving end of crushing hits, and his stick skills to repel opposition chances in the defensive zone. He’s still very young, and if he adds muscle to his frame, he could develop into an even more complete defender.
A cerebral defenceman who has some of the best pure hockey sense of any player in the WHL. His vision through the neutral zone and on the offensive point allows him to exploit the smallest of holes in the opposing team’s coverage. He is a premier offensive D-man on the power play and through transition.
Andy Levangie, Hockey Prospect Black Book
Bean showed me control for game in each viewing, he skates with an air of confidence to make plays and doesn’t let mistakes deter him from trying again. He wants to dictate the pace of the game, which is something I value in a defenceman. He’s not in this years drafts top defenceman grouping for me, but his ceiling is really high in my eyes.
A talented, fluid skater with an effortless stride that handles the puck well. Uses his excellent mobility effectively on both offence and defence. Very good walking in from the point, has the ability to make guys miss and get himself into high quality scoring areas. Seems to make something happen every time he has the puck. Big shot and tremendous vision. Tough playoffs, he was getting keyed on all series. As the games went on you could see him fade off quite a bit due to tiredness and getting pretty beat up. Can still get pushed around in front of the net and in the corners due to less-than-ideal NHL size for a defender. Prone to occasional lapses in concentration.
Future Considerations: 18th
Central Scouting Service: 15th
Hockey Prospects: 15th
DraftBuzz Hockey: 13th
Bob McKenzie: 11th
Jake Bean could be a useful left-handed puck-moving defender and power-play specialist, and would be a great addition to a squad like the Habs. That said, there would by all accounts be better players available at the ninth-overall pick.
The only way a team like Montreal would end up with Bean is if they should trade down for multiple later picks and grabbed Bean later in the first round.
Teams who have mid-first-round picks and a need for an offensively gifted defenceman would include the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers.
Bean is expected to be a solid 3-4 spot defender, and if he improves his defensive game and adds a touch of grit to his play, he could easily be a top-pairing player and run a first power-play unit in the NHL.