Blue Jackets’ Jake Bean Paying Big Early Dividends

It was 4-1 Blue Jackets to start the third period Saturday night in Seattle. Surely that’s the safest lead in hockey, right? No team ever blows a three-goal lead in that position.

Except blowing a 4-1 lead seems to happen a lot. It happened to the Blue Jackets on Saturday. Vince Dunn tied the score late in the third period. The Kraken had all the momentum. Someone from the Blue Jackets needed to step up to secure a win in overtime.

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For the second time this season, defenseman Jake Bean did just that. His goal won the game in overtime for the Blue Jackets. They skated out of Seattle with a 5-4 win.

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Jake Voracek made it all happen on the winning goal. He drew defenders to him and then hit Bean with a perfect pass. Bean made no mistake with his shot going upstairs on goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

It was a huge goal for Bean not only because it helped the Blue Jackets win the game. It was huge because you wonder how the team would have reacted had they lost after being up 4-1. It was a clutch moment for one of the newest Blue Jackets in Bean.

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Earlier in the season in Colorado, Bean scored twice including the game-winner in overtime. That goal capped off a Blue Jackets’ win after blowing a late third period lead similar to Saturday night.

Don’t look now, but Bean is quietly having a real good start to his 2021-22 season. He’s chipping in important offense. He’s showing improvement defensively while playing big minutes. He gives the Blue Jackets another threat as a puck-moving defenseman.

Most of the talk of the offseason was about the big trades the Blue Jackets made. Seth Jones comes to mind. Cam Atkinson comes to mind. But we need to talk more about the Bean trade. At the one third mark of the season, the Blue Jackets are getting their money’s worth on the second-round pick they sent to the Carolina Hurricanes to get him.

Bean’s Impressive Start

Let’s look at Bean’s numbers this season.

  • Has 4-7-11 while not missing any of the Blue Jackets’ 26 games.
  • Has two game-winning goals, both in overtime.
  • Averages 22:30 ice time per game, a dramatic spike from his earlier seasons.
  • In fact, Bean’s lowest TOI this season was the opener when he played 19:37. All other games he’s played at least 19:51. In his last two games, he’s played 26:47 and 25:30.
  • Only Zach Werenski has recorded more TOI than Bean this season on the Blue Jackets. Bean is showing that he can handle top-four minutes playing mostly alongside Werenski.
  • Bean is seeing time on both special team’s units, recording over 20 minutes on the kill and running the second power-play unit. (per Nat Stat Trick)
Jake Bean Columbus Blue Jackets
Jake Bean is enjoying a great start and playing huge minutes for the Blue Jackets. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This is as good a start as the Blue Jackets could hope for. Bean has come right in and shown that when given an opportunity, he can handle bigger minutes and more responsibility. His game by no means has been perfect. He still needs to develop defensively and round out his overall game. He has a ton of room to get better.

However for his first 26 games, Bean has met and exceeded early expectations. He’s not afraid of the big moment as evidenced by two game-winning goals. And he is showing some improvement as the season goes on.

All this so far at the cost of a 2021 second-round draft pick, 44th overall. The Hurricanes selected D Aleksi Heimosalmi with that pick. Bean at least so far is showing that he could become a Blue Jackets’ mainstay for years to come. If that becomes reality, that’s as effective a use for a second-round pick as there is.

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That’s why so far, the Blue Jackets acquisition of Bean is paying big dividends. He’s helped steady the defense while making a big impact on the ice. GM Jarmo Kekalainen once again may have struck gold at a minimum cost. This deal has the potential of looking better and better for the Blue Jackets with each passing year. From their perspective, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Side Dishes: Seattle Kraken postgame

  • Voracek as mentioned above setup Bean for the game-winning goal. That assist for Voracek was his 17th primary assist of the season. That leads the NHL. He’s one ahead of both Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau. Speaking of good trades…
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand opened the scoring Saturday night and added an assist. Those two points gave him 200 career NHL points (92-108-200 in 328 games.) Is he still underrated?
Oliver Bjorkstrand Columbus Blue Jackets
Oliver Bjorkstrand is now a member of the 200 career points club in the NHL. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
  • Are you seeing some good chemistry between Jack Roslovic and Max Domi? Yes I am too. Roslovic scored a goal and Domi had two on Saturday night. Amazing what can happen when you put speed and skill together and let them work.
  • Folks will look at Elvis Merzlikins’ night and point at the third period. The Kraken pushed when needed so they deserve credit for tying the game. But a huge moment that many will forget is the save Merzlikins made on Jared McCann after the game got to 4-4. If the Kraken score there the roof would have came off of Climate Pledge Arena and a party would have broken out in the seats. Instead Merzlikins saved it and helped get them to overtime. Sometimes the key saves are just as important as the overall result. It applies here.
  • The Blue Jackets will enjoy Sunday off before returning to practice Monday in advance of their game Tuesday against Bruce Boudreau and the Vancouver Canucks.
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