The New Jersey Devils are mere weeks away from walking up to the draft podium and selecting their newest crop of prospects to join the team. With a high first round pick (#11 overall), New Jersey fans assume that the team will be looking for an impact forward to help out one of the lowest scoring teams in the league for the past few seasons. While not a forward, Jake Bean is no stranger to racking up points and helping to put pucks in the net; today we look and see if he might be an option when the Devils make their first selection of 2016.
Who is Jake Bean?
Bean was born June 9th, 1998 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's listed at 6'1" and 172 pounds, which means he has some filling out to do to fit his frame and truly be muscular enough to match up with NHL competition; however, he certainly has enough time to do that. Upon first looking into Bean, what stood out to me right away was that he has been able to post points as a defenseman seemingly at every level he has played at so far. Here are his stats courtesy of Elite Prospects:
Jake's first year with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL saw him post 5 goals and 34 assists in 51 games for 0.76 points per game. He increased those totals this past season with a huge leap to 24 goals and 40 assists in 68 games for 0.94 points. As an almost point per game player in his draft year while playing defense, Bean is a player who will generate a lot of interest from a lot of NHL teams.
Where is Bean Ranked?
With everything that Bean is doing, he has definitely earned his high ranking in mock drafts and scouting reports; here's a look at where Bean is projected to be taken:
|NHL CSS||HockeyProspect.com||ISS||Future Considerations||McKeen's||Kournianos||Morreale||Kimelman|
Quite a spread of positions in which Bean may be drafted here, as Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst has him going as low as 22nd while NHL.com's Adam Kimelman has him going one pick above ours to the Colorado Avalanche. NHL.com's other mock drafter Mike Morreale has him going between those opposite ends of the spectrum at 15.
What Others Say About Jake Bean
I won't break my usual trend in prospect articles of providing Elite Prospects' scouting report first, so here's what Curtis Joe has to say about Bean:
A shifty and intelligent defenceman that plays with panache and poise. An excellent skater that is a good puck-carrier up the ice. Makes very good decisions with and without the puck, and plays strong positionally. Works hard and doesn't give the opposition much to work with, but could stand to be a bit more assertive during high pressure situations. That being said, he is not a one dimentional player. He displays natural talent in the offensive end, but also plays a complete defensive game in his own end. He has a proactive stick and boxes the opposition out, limiting lanes. All-in-all, the type of all-around defenceman that you want to have on the ice as much as possible.
A good report that highlights Jake's strengths as well as his need to be more assertive when the situation calls for it. I'm not a fan of overwhelmingly positive scouting reports, because even players drafted first overall in their draft class aren't perfect (if you don't believe me, go check in with the Edmonton Oilers) so it's nice to see mention of an area (albeit a small one) where Jake could stand to work on his game. His puck carrying skills, strong positioning and active stick should make him a highly sought after commodity in the draft.
Future Considerations posted this blurb about Bean this past November:
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.
This seems to provide a bit more depth to the analysis from EP; as I stated in my introduction, it's obvious Bean needs to add some strength to his frame, and FC agrees. His transition skills again are being stressed as his greatest asset.
Finally, Glen Erickson of Hockey's Future provided his analysis of Bean:
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. Through 54 games he has scored 21 goals and added 29 assists for 50 points, which exceeds his total output from a 51-game campaign last season.
Of note this season is the quality of Bean's play while Sanheim was briefly out of the lineup with an injury, then again when the veteran rearguard was away at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Bean basically took over as the offensive catalyst on the back end and as the power play quarterback. While he may have been overlooked by all 21 WHL teams at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, he can certainly count on hearing his name called early on at the 2016 NHL Draft.
I like that Erickson acknowledged that Bean's partner was Second Rate Rivals' prospect Travis Sanheim, but also established that Bean was not carried by Sanheim. He also recognized that Bean is still developing and in my opinion unless he sets the world on fire (or goes to a team with a very, very poor defense) he will continue to do so again next year.
A Little Video
Our first video today shows the Calagry Hitman's highlights from his 2015-16 season. It gives a good look at his offensive ability as well as his style of play:
Our second video today is quite a bit longer than our first, clocking in at just under 23 minutes. If you don't have time for this one, I'd skip it, but it shows a shift by shift breakdown of how Jake plays the game. It's taken from a 4-1 win over the Red Deer Rebels with Bean having a point (2G-2A) on Hitmen score.
An Opinion of Sorts
I honestly am intrigued by Bean as a prospect simply because the New Jersey Devils don't seem to have a player like him on the blue line. He can push play forward and seems capable of making some great things happen on offense. He also has good skating and transition skills, which would fit in nicely with John Hynes' fast, supportive attack system.
That being said, I don't think he winds up being New Jersey's first round selection in this year's draft for a couple of reasons. The first is the most obvious and that is for me, drafting Jake doesn't fill an area of need for our team; while we could use a couple more solid defenders in the system, the fact is we still have glaring weaknesses on our front lines and a pick this high in the draft should be used to select a talented forward. The second reason is that there will be certain teams looking specifically for defense; even if Bean was the best player available when we were to select, I can't help but feel like we might be able to trade down a pick or two to a team who really wants him. He certainly seems like he will be a good NHLer, but I don't see him being our choice at the podium, as I really think Shero and crew will go best forward available at #11.
Now I'd like to hear your thoughts on Jake Bean; if he is the best player available when the Devils select, do you want to see New Jersey take him over a forward? Is his offensive upside something that makes him a desirable choice in your mind? Are there any particular aspects of his game that you like? Anything specific that you dislike? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!