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CBJ Top 25 Under 25: The Unbearable Lightness of Jake Bean

Does the defenseman fit in the team’s long term plans?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had almost 100 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. Stay tuned as we count down the 25 highest voted players for the next month. Now, Jake Bean.

#14 Jake Bean

Voting

14th out of 40 eligible players
Writer Rank: 15
Reader Rank: 11
Highest placement: 3 (1 vote)
Most common placement: 10 (13 votes)
2021 Rank: 7

Biography

Birthdate: June 9, 1998
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 186 lbs
Position: Defenseman
Shoots: Left
Acquired: Traded from Carolina on July 23, 2021 for a 2021 2nd Round Pick (#44 from Chicago, used to select Aleksi Heimosalmi)

2021-22 Season

Along with Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean was one half of a blue line refresh which occurred last summer as part of the trade of Seth Jones. Long buried on Carolina’s depth chart, the former first round pick (#13 in 2016) was due for a change of scenery and the chance to play a bigger role at the NHL level. In his first significant NHL action, he scored 12 points (1/11) in 42 games for the Hurricanes in 2021, averaging just 14:32 of ice time per game. In Columbus, his deployment jumped to 20:34 and he scored 25 points (7/18) in 67 games.

While much of the attention was on Boqvist to take Jones’s place next to Zach Werenski, it was Bean who manned the right side of the top pair to start the season. He held his own and contributed offensively, including two OT game winning goals in the first three months of the season. After the new year, however, the pair was struggling too much defensively and Bean was swapped out for Andrew Peeke. This was soon followed by a groin injury which kept him on the IR through the month of February (coincidentally, a month where the Jackets thrived). After returning he spent most of his time with Vladislav Gavrikov, and while my recollection was that Bean was at best invisible, his numbers weren’t that different:

Games Played: 41 before, 26 after
Goals: 4 before, 3 after
Assists: 11 before, 7 after
Points: 15 before, 10 after
Plus/minus: - 1 before, - 4 after
Shooting %: 6.9 before, 9.4 after
Average TOI: 21:14 before, 19:31 after

2022-23 Outlook

Bean is still just 24 years old, and is under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable $2.3 million AAV. In summer 2024, he will be restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He has been brought up throughout the summer (including multiple times by yours truly) as a possible trade piece. I don’t think this as much a knock on Bean as much as it is a reflection of the roster around him and the talent coming up the pipeline.

Among the 13 players ranked above Bean on the list, six are defensemen. All are his age or younger. Five are right-handed shots, though Bean, a lefty, can play either side. On the left side, however, Werenski has the top spot locked up, and presumably Gavrikov will get an extension by next summer to remain a large, physical, shutdown presence on the second pair. That leaves the third pair for Bean, to be the presumptive placeholder for Denton Mateychuk.

The trade didn’t happen, so for now the speculation will remain, with Bean as a trade sweetener being the new version of “Murray, Milano and a pick.” We will see if Bean has put in the work this summer to get stronger and to improve his all-around game. It should be noted that he compared well to his teammates, with only Werenski and Boqvist having better even strength shot attempt ratios among the regular defensemen (Nick Blankenburg was the highest, but in just seven games).

Does Bean have another level to reach in Columbus, or is his long term future destined to happen elsewhere?

Highlights

Remember when we swept the eventual Stanley Cup champions? Good times.