While Charlie McAvoy and Dante Fabbro might be considered more likely prospects for selection by the Bruins with their 14thoverall pick given their ties to Boston University, Calgary native Jake Bean is another D-man possibility when it comes time for Don Sweeney to step to the podium.
The lean 6-foot-1, 173-pound Bean led all junior hockey defenseman with 24 goals scored last season, and finished with 64 points in 68 games for the Calgary Hitmen while showing good skating ability, superior on-ice vision making the first pass and a bomb of a point shot that accounted for a handful of his scores in Calgary last season. Bean is well-coached and smart on the ice when it comes to positioning and using his stick defensively, but it’s clear the wiry 17-year-old is going to need a good amount of time to ultimately develop the required size and strength for NHL action.
It’s something Bean freely admits, and something the young prospect has probably already heard from his father, John, who has served as the COO in the Calgary Flames organization for the last handful of years.
“For me, my biggest thing is strength and I know that’s going to come with time,” said Bean. “If I can just keep on the track I’m on then I’ll be okay. I don’t know if my [draft pick] expectations have any numerical value. For me it’s the team that’s the best fit for me, and the one that likes me the most.
“I think I’m a good, two-way defenseman that makes a good first pass, plays big minutes in big games against the other team’s top lines. I think I’ve improved a lot [in the WHL], and a lot of parts of me physically, mentally and on the ice have gotten a lot better. Getting better every day is something I have a lot of fun with.”
The talented, focused Bean interviewed with the Bruins last week at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo, and is tracking to be selected right around the middle of the first round.
Sources within the scouting world have indicated that McAvoy and Fabbro rate a little higher on Boston’s draft board than Bean, but in truth there isn’t much that separates any of this talented trio of teenagers with so much times to still develop their games.
“A shifty and intelligent defenseman 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 dimensional 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 defenseman that you want to have on the ice as much as possible.”
The two truths regardless of which player gets picked at that spot: the Bruins will be happy with the selection, and it will also be a player that’s at least a year or two away from contributing in Boston at the NHL level.
Bean pointed to Cam Fowler and Duncan Keith as a couple of puck-moving NHL defensemen that he closely models his game after, and it’s clear he wants to be a top-4 guy trusted in all situations.
“I think Cam Fowler and Duncan Keith are both guys that make a good first pass, and they’re both big minute guys,” said Bean, who had five goals and 39 points in 51 games for Calgary two seasons ago as an undrafted rookie junior player in the WHL. “A lot of the defensemen [in the NHL] are unbelievably skilled and unbelievably talented. I wouldn’t say I’m there yet, but it’s definitely cool to watch [the NHL evolve to faster, skilled players].”
While Bean might not be a player the Bruins can keep a close eye on at the Boston University campus for the next couple of season, it ultimately won’t prevent them for selecting him if he’s the best player on the board when the 14th overall pick rolls around.
Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs