The Carolina Hurricanes’ protected list for the expansion draft was released yesterday and featured three defensemen. One young defender who was left unprotected, however, was Jake Bean.
Bean made the jump to the NHL this season, scoring 12 points in 42 games. He just turned 23 years old and has a very high offensive upside. With Bean exposed though, he seems to be the most likely option from Carolina to join the Seattle Kraken, with it being unlikely that Seattle would take Nino Niederreiter over Bean.
Bean was left exposed in the draft in favour of defender Brady Skjei and while some may agree with this decision, I think this was a move the Hurricanes will really regret down the road.
Skjei was important for the Hurricanes in the postseason, especially when Jaccob Slavin missed some games. He was also a key part of the team’s penalty kill, where he averaged nearly 3:30 per game in the playoffs.
However, looking at Skjei’s game on a wider scale from the time he joined the Hurricanes, he hasn’t been great. He’s contributed very little offense and isn’t overly consistent defensively, being prone to both bad turnovers and getting caught out of position in the defensive zone.
Even factoring in his impact in the playoffs, Skjei isn’t worth the $5.25 million he’s being paid for the next three years. Also consider that he’s four years older than Bean when comparing the players and Skjei doesn't come out looking like the more valuable defender.
Factor in the expansion draft implications as well and the decision looks even more puzzling. Seattle has their pick of so many defensemen that it was highly unlikely they would’ve selected Skjei, based on his contract. As I’ve mentioned before, even if they did, that’s $5.25 million of cap space to go find a replacement who could provide more value than Skjei for that price.
Bean, on the other hand, is a very attractive option for Seattle. He’s a year removed from being named AHL Defenseman of the Year and is only going to get more and more comfortable in the NHL. If he can get stronger and improve his defensive game, even to an extent, it’s highly likely that he’ll become a top-four, offensive defenseman.
To me, leaving Bean exposed seems like an uncharacteristic mistake from general manager Don Waddell and the Hurricanes may end up losing a player who could've been a long-term member of the defense group.
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Who do you think the Hurricanes should've protected?