2015-16 Team: Calgary Hitmen (#2)
Date of Birth: June 9, 1998
Place of Birth: Calgary, AB
Ht: 6’1” Wt: 170 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 first-year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking: 8th (June)
- THW Alternate: 14th (June)
- THW War Room: 15th (May)
- Future Considerations: 18th (June)
- ISS: 16th (June)
- Bob McKenzie: 12th (June)
- Craig Button: 14th (June)
The Calgary Hitmen were expected to take a bit of a step back this season, with the loss of several prominent players. However, the team instead returned to the postseason and a good deal of the credit has to go to arguably their best and most consistent player, 2016 draft-eligible defenseman Jake Bean.
A Calgary native, Bean joined the Hitmen as an undrafted player to begin the 2014-15 season (at the tender age of 16). In an unusual feat for such a young player, Bean played in 51 of Calgary’s 72 games that season and proved himself a steady contributor with some upside. He impressed many this season with his poise and consistency, and he really took a big step forward as an on-ice leader during a pair of lengthy absences by defense partner Travis Sanheim — once for the World Juniors and once due to an injury. Bean seemed to take a few games to adjust to the larger role and responsibilities, but he really grew into an even more impressive player than he was prior.
Bean’s a very attractive commodity to National Hockey League teams for many reasons. His primary assets are his on-ice awareness and his skating ability. He can sense looming trouble — whether it be players on the forecheck or simply a lack of passing lanes — and adjust on the fly. He’s also quite good at using his speed to jump into the rush and create offensive chances for his teammates, as well as rushing back to break up odd-man rushes (or merely getting back into his defensive positioning more quickly than most defenders in the WHL). He’s a strong passer who’s been quite effective quarterbacking Calgary’s power play, and he’s also got a quick, accurate shot from the point. He set the Hitmen single-season goal-scoring record for a defenseman this season.
If Bean has an area to work on, it’s in the physical aspect of the game. He’s still very much a junior player physically, boasting a tall, lean frame that can probably handle a lot more mass than he currently has. Perhaps due to his frame, Bean doesn’t battle in the corners very much and fore-checkers have been able to get him off his game a bit with a physical attack in a dump-and-chase game. For him to be an effective pro player, it’s something he’ll need to adjust to. That said, he’s been a tremendous WHL player with that weakness, so it’s not like it’s something he can’t work around.
Puck-moving defenders are highly coveted by NHL teams given the stylistic changes the game has undergone over the past decade. Bean is a strong skater, a strong passer and sees the ice very well. He’s become one of the WHL’s top defenders after just two seasons in the league, and he’s still learning and adapting. He’ll make a team very happy at the 2016 NHL Draft.
NHL Draft Projection:
Bean is a lock to go in the first round. While most projections have him around 15th, there’s a decent chance that a general manager or head scout might fall in love with his attributes — and see a strong organizational fit — and he could possibly go as high as 10th overall.
“Bean progressed quickly last season, due in part to the benefit of partnering with Travis Sanheim (PHI) on the Hitmen’s blueline. His development has continued this season as he has been atop or near the top of scoring among WHL defensemen almost since day one.”
–Glen Erickson, Hockey’s Future
“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.”
- Hockey sense
- On-ice vision
- Skating ability
- Strong passer
- Accurate wrist shot
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Could stand to add some weight to his frame
- Occasionally struggles with physical battles
- Doesn’t play particularly “mean”
With his skating ability and vision, Bean could eventually develop into an NHL player resembling T.J. Brodie.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 8/10, Defensive 7/10
Bean represented Canada at the Under-17s (with Canada Black) and won a gold medal last summer at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He also represented the WHL in the annual Super Series against the Russian national junior team and earned a spot at the annual CHL Top Prospect Game.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.