Jake Bean is one of the Carolina Hurricanes’ top prospects. He was drafted 13th overall in 2016 and was just named AHL Defenseman of the Year this past season. Now 22 years old though, he’s still played just two NHL games– but we can expect that to change this season.
There shouldn’t be much doubt that Bean is ready for the NHL. In the 2019-20 season, Bean scored 10 goals and 48 points in 58 AHL games with the Charlotte Checkers and between individual achievements, as well as Charlotte’s Calder Cup in 2019, Bean has accomplished all he can in AHL.
Another key factor in bringing Bean up to the NHL is the expansion draft, which will take place next year. Bean is eligible to be selected by Seattle and the Hurricanes have limited protection spots available. At this point, it’s pretty much a guarantee that they’ll be stuck with quality players exposed. However, it’s important to get Bean into action to see how he’ll adjust to the NHL and whether the Hurricanes should use a spot to protect him. Carolina can’t let him go unprotected, without a decent sample size of NHL action to go off of. Considering how young he is, if they feel like he’ll turn into a top-four defenseman, they have to protect him.
It would be ideal to start Bean on the third pairing with Haydn Fleury, behind Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei. However, if the Hurricanes aren’t able to move Jake Gardiner this offseason, they could be in a bit of a predicament. The team would have seven defensemen and you have to think the Hurricanes wouldn’t be willing to just stick Gardiner in the press box night after night, given what that would do to any remaining trade value he has.
It’ll be key for the Hurricanes to find a spot for Bean in what could be a crowded defense group next season. However, despite the lack of NHL experience thus far, signs point to Bean becoming a successful NHL defenseman.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Assuming he's in the NHL next season, how many points do you expect from Jake Bean (82-game average)?