Bean ready for first draft experience

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center, Europe, Features

Calgary Hitmen defenseman Jake Bean went undrafted once.

It’s not about to happen a second time.

Bean, who went untouched in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft in 2013, is a virtual lock to be a first round pick at the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY on June 24.

There’s value in that for the 18-year-old.

“For sure there is,” Bean told reports in a pre-draft availability. “(But) the main thing is the right fit. I want to play for the team that wants me the most. The team that aligns their values with mine and sees me playing in their organization is what is important to me.

“I think playing in the NHL is still a long ways away, but as long as I keep doing what I’ve been doing and continue to have a good daily routine then hopefully everything works out from there.”

It’s worked with his current team. Bean was listed by his hometown Hitmen in 2014 and has a meteoric rise since.

He had five goals and 39 points as a rookie defenseman in the WHL in 2014-15.

His encore was even better.

Bean topped all draft eligible WHL defensemen in goals (24), and led all defensemen in points (64), power play goals (12) and game-winning goals (6). His 24 goals set a single-season Hitmen record amongst blueliners, too.

“Bean has a very complete and balanced offensive repertoire,” Future Considerations scout Donesh Mazloum said. “First and foremost, he is an incredibly intelligent hockey player. He is an outstanding passer who beats opponents with patience, vision and high level execution. He is very efficient at creating scoring chances. His high hockey IQ allows him to excel at not only finding teammates but finding the most dangerous option overall. He also knows when to call his own number as evidenced by his WHL-leading 24 goals from the back end.

“If a team is looking for offense from the back end, Bean may have the highest potential of anyone in the draft.”

There’s been plenty of opportunity to scout Bean.

He represented Team WHL in the Canada-Russia Series, and played for Team Orr in the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game.

However he missed the opportunity to play on his biggest stage of the season — the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship — after breaking his foot.

“It was really hard,” said Bean, the WHL Eastern Conference’s most sportsmanlike player and nominee for the Canadian Hockey League’s top prospect award. “As soon as I got there they treated me very nice and I knew I was going to play a big role on the team. It was a good team made up of guys I missed playing with so it was pretty tough to go home.

“I was limping around and the coach said to go get it checked out. It was probably about 10 days before I knew it was broken.”

No matter.

It won’t hurt his stock on draft day.

He’ll be there.

To hear his name called for the first time.

No doubt he’s ready.

“It’s going to be a cool once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m going try to soak in,” Bean said.

With files from Jason Pirie