The Flyers are probably very familiar with Jake Bean.
The 17-year-old Calgary Hitmen defender plays his junior hockey alongside two of the team’s most exciting prospects, Travis Sanheim and Radel Fazleev. He's even been a frequent defensive partner to Sanheim himself. It’d fair to say that the Flyers have noticed Bean for the better part of the last two years, and should have as much of an evaluation as any team for one of the best defensemen in the 2016 draft.
- Born: June 9, 1998
- Nationality: Canadian
- Height: 6'1"
- Weight: 172 lbs
- Team: Calgary Hitmen
- Position: Defense
Another puck-moving defensemen?
We’ll settle the argument here quickly: Jake Bean will instantly remind you of Shayne Gostisbehere. His transition with the puck on his stick is as fluid as any player I’ve seen in this class. I’m a strong advocate for players who can play with the puck. Look at a player like Gostisbehere and then a player like his current defensive partner, Andrew MacDonald. On the one hand, you see what makes Ghost so good in that he can be comfortable moving the puck on his own, where as with MacDonald, you see a player who tends to look at getting rid of the puck as soon as possible.
While many will label Bean as an "offensive defenseman," his style of play is perfect for today's NHL. And yes, it doesn’t hurt that Bean is a proficient scorer from the blue line as well.
Speaking of scoring -- and while I’ll always advocate the use of even-strength scoring -- I think it would be a disservice to not talk about Bean’s proficiency on the power play. Bean finished second among qualified (more then one game played) defenders in primary power play points (goals and primary assists) per game at .309. Want to know who finished first and third? Two Flyers prospects: Sanheim (.404) and Ivan Provorov (.306).
So, yeah, Jake Bean is playing just as well as two of the best man-advantage players in Canadian major juniors. If you’re thinking to yourself "Why should we draft someone else who’s great with a man advantage when we have all these guys who are already just as good?" And to answer your question, just look at the Flyers second PP unit the past few years. It’s safe to say that we shouldn’t worry about having too many power play quarterbacks at our disposal.
And I think that’s true of defensemen as a whole. The market inefficiency of elite defensemen in todays NHL makes it almost impossible not to stock up on high-upside potential at the position. We saw last year just how important adding Gostisbehere to the lineup was, so I wouldn’t disapprove of the Flyers hedging their bets on the blue line with another defensemen in 2016. If more then enough pan out, the value will transcend to the trade market as well. Look up the trade values for top, young, team-controlled defensemen. If you're not finding a lot of results, that’s because most teams aren’t willing to trade those players because of how valuable they are.
Will he be the fit for the Flyers?
Jake Bean is one of the most valuable players in this draft, especially to the Flyers. I truly believe he has an NHL game to him that will make him at worst a serviceable NHLer. At best, he possesses elite puck-movement, a solid defensive IQ, and the ability to QB a top PP unit. And at absolute best, he’s a cog in Hextall's defensive machine that turns out multiple quality players. At worst, he or another player becomes an extremely useful asset down the road.