Three years ago he was overlooked by all 21 WHL teams. They were too busy selecting more than 200 players over 12 rounds at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft to notice a hidden top defenceman waiting his turn to prove that he had exactly what they all so desperately wanted.
Jake Bean is just one example of what industry experts have called a late bloomer and that’s because he didn’t have the physically impressive features that all scouts in the WHL wanted. Based on my findings, though, the Los Angeles Kings have one of the most successful scouting departments in the NHL and there’s something awfully familiar between their prospects and the Calgary Hitmen’s Mr. Bean… they look like Steve Rogers (Captain America, pre-serum injection).
Late Bloomer Syndrome Found in Top Defenceman
The average boy stops growing in height by the age of 18 and therefore, boys in every league leading into the NHL have the potential to get taller and stronger. Early starters on the growth chart are obviously going to excel amongst their peers, while late bloomers are going to lag. However, as the age of 18 quickly nears for each and every boy, those early starters who showed so much potential will slowly plateau while their lagging counterparts begin to catch up… and sometimes surpass.
What’s my point? My point is simple. At the Bantam and Minor Midget level, scouts can’t identify talent based on looks alone. Whether or not it’s a genetic flaw of the male gender, this kind of short-sightedness doesn’t yield long-term results for anyone. So when it comes to late bloomers and their trajectories, physical features will fail everyone every time.
Bean went unnoticed at the Draft in 2013, but three years later he’s become one of the top eight defensemen expected to get drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Of these eight players, Bean ranks first for most goals-per-game.
- Jakob Chychrun
- Olli Juolevi
- Mikhail Sergachev
- Charlie McAvoy
- Jake Bean
- Dante Fabbro
- Logan Stanley
- Libor Hajek
Bean Started to Bloom
It was pretty much right after no one wanted him that Bean started to make a positive and noticeable difference in the world of hockey. As a 16-year-old rookie defenceman with the Hitmen in 2014, he was one of the best 66 players in Canada within his age group and played with Canada Black at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
He played on the National Men’s Under-18 Team and won the gold medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August.
Earlier this month (March 8), he ranked fourth in scoring among all WHL defencemen.
He set a franchise record for most goals by a defenceman in a season (March 12).
Hometown Hockey Video: Bean Feature
— Rogers Hometown Hockey (@hometownhockey_) March 20, 2016
TSN’s Director of Scouting, Craig Button describes Bean as,
…an exceptional skater with an outstanding mind… (March 22)
On that same day, The Concordian recently said that Bean…
…is a great offensive defenceman who currently leads his junior team, the Calgary Hitmen, in goals with 24.
The next day, he won the WHL Eastern Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player award and was named to the conference’s second All-Star team.
Perhaps his father John Bean, the COO of the Calgary Flames had been a source of inspiration throughout his minor hockey journey, but it was his perseverance that eventually landed him on the radars of so many NHL scouts today. Bean Jr. has become a leader, an All-Star and a character worth watching now and it’s all because he never gave up, no matter what any of the experts were telling him.
I’m a Hockey Journalist based out of Barrie, Ontario, a Contributing Writer for The Hockey Writers covering OHL, and NHL prospects with an insatiable thirst for all things LA Kings, and PR gal for Abel Sports Management.