TORONTO -- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman prospect Jake Bean hopes he has played his last game at the junior level.
Heading into Hurricanes training camp, Bean, 19, did not want to handicap his chance of playing in the NHL to start the season, but intends to make sure he takes advantage of the opportunity.
"It's tough for me to evaluate my chances," Bean said at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase on Monday. "I know there are some spots open there and it's going to be my goal to go into camp, make the team and then help make the team get better."
Bean has spent the past three seasons with Calgary of the Western Hockey League, scoring 148 points (37 goals, 111 assists) in 162 games. Always a capable offensive player, Bean said the biggest evolution in his game since being selected by the Hurricanes with the No. 13 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft has been his defensive ability.
"I think from then, my game has matured a lot," Bean said. "I think defensively, I'm staying a lot more compact within myself and making sure I'm staying on the right side of pucks and the right side of guys in lanes. That's definitely the biggest difference. I'm playing with a lot of confidence right now and hopefully I can bring that into camp."
Bean sees himself as a two-way defenseman capable of playing a 200-foot game with an ability to make a strong first pass to advance the puck. Though producing offense is a big part of his game, he knows the way to endear himself to Hurricanes coach Bill Peters will be his defensive reliability.
"They're big on strength but they're not too focused on how big I am," said Bean (6-foot-1, 173 pounds). "For the most part, Bill said he wants me focusing on staying on the right side of pucks, meaning to be on the right side of the puck defensively in battles. That's what he's going to be looking for out of me in camp."
Bean is looking to join an impressive young group of Hurricanes defensemen, including Trevor van Riemsdyk (26), Klas Dahlbeck (26), Justin Faulk (25), Jaccob Slavin (23), Brett Pesce (22) and Noah Hanifin (20). But if Bean has to wait another season for his NHL debut, he has his sights set on avenging Canada's 5-4 shootout loss to the United States in the gold medal game at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
"That would be another really good opportunity," Bean said. "There's a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, in a lot of our guys' mouths from last year, so with it being right in Buffalo, there will be a lot of Canadian fans. Any chance you get to represent your country, it's pretty special, so it would be cool to get that chance again.
"World juniors was huge in my family. Every Christmas we would be watching it, so just to be a part of it myself and have the opportunity again to represent my country, it would be pretty cool.