Jake Bean was the AHL’s best defender last year by common consensus, but what next for the Calgary, Alberta native?
In 2016, the Carolina Hurricanes used the 13th overall pick on a defender from Alberta. His name was Jake Bean. Commonly regarded as one of the best prospects in the Carolina system during his entire time with the organization, Bean truly took that next step last season en route to becoming a permanent fixture on the Carolina Hurricanes blueline for the long term.
But as of late, Bean has really started to establish himself as a top tier defender at the American Hockey League level. In his rookie AHL year, he helped push the Charlotte Checkers to a Calder Cup championship. In his second year with the team, he was the best defender in the AHL by common opinion and was voted to the AHL all-star classic.
Bean has not only started to emerge as an elite talent, he’s just out-classing everyone he plays against at that level. It’s getting to the point where there is nothing left for him to do at this level. He’s going to have won it all, and he is going to have accomplished everything he can do. With that in mind, is it time for him to come up to the NHL?
I think he has to get NHL time next year because there’s Bean and then a chasm in the AHL. He is clearly starting to push the blue-line ahead of him and that’s saying a fair bit due to the amount of NHL talent ahead of him.
So, how is it possible for him to slot into the NHL blue line with 5 of the 6 players ahead of him under contract, and one is a pending restricted free agent?
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It’s simple in my opinion. Move Haydn Fleury. Another left-handed shot on the blue-line who is also a first-round pick, Bean is just better right now that Fleury is. Bean also has a higher potential ceiling to reach. It’s just a better move to make.
As I mentioned, Fleury is a restricted free agent. Moving on from him also means they don’t have to give him a pay raise he has so greatly deserved. Bean is still on his entry-level contract and is, therefore, cheaper than the Saskatchewan native, and with 2 big free agents coming up next off-season, it’s a smarter move financially to prepare for those big raises incoming.
Question for Cardiac Cane Readers: What do you think the Hurricanes should do with Jake Bean?