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Jake Bean looking to grow into role with Hurricanes

Carolina prospect aims to be future fixture on defense

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes prospect Jake Bean will never know why he was passed over in the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft. Maybe he was a bit too small, or his game wasn't quite refined enough.

"I don't know the answer to why I got overlooked," Bean, 18, said. "I was probably good enough that year. Obviously, scouts do their homework. I think maybe I was a bit more of a late developer. They're going to miss guys every year, and I guess I was just one of those guys."

Today, the 6-foot-1, 172-pound defenseman is Exhibit A for the inexact nature of scouting. After Bean made the roster of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen in 2014, he had 39 points to set their rookie record for most points in a season by a defenseman. He took another step forward last season when he scored 24 goals, most ever by a Calgary defenseman.

That was enough to get the attention of the Hurricanes, who selected Bean with the 13th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Bean signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Carolina on Saturday. He will make $832,000 on the NHL level, or $70,000 in the American Hockey League through his first three professional seasons, and also received a signing bonus of $277,500.

"It's pretty cool," Bean said. "It's definitely a first-class organization and I'm really grateful to be a part of it. It's a pretty special day for my family and I, so I'm trying to enjoy it."

Tweet from @JakeBean_2: Thanks to the @NHLCanes for a great week! Very grateful to be a part of such a great organization. Excited to come back soon!

Bean is lauded as an offensive defenseman, but his WHL coach believes he should be credited for his overall game too. 

"He has the want to play that way," Mark French said. "He doesn't want to play reckless. He won't sacrifice the defensive end of it. Scouts have said he has to work at his defensive game, but he takes a lot of pride in that. He spends a lot of time with attention to detail, whether it's with stick position or body position." 

The selection came as a surprise to many who follow the Hurricanes. Not only did their lineup last season feature three rookie defensemen -- Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin -- but they already had a strong pipeline of defensive prospects, including Haydn Fleury of Red Deer (selected No. 7 in 2014). 

"In some ways it's a logjam, but for me, I'm excited that I'm going to be surrounded by really talented prospects and players," Bean said. "It's an opportunity not everyone is going to get with every team." 

Bean and Fleury already have a connection. Fleury's younger brother Cale, a defenseman with Kootenay of the WHL, is a friend of Bean's. That led to some on-ice training with the Fleury brothers in recent weeks. One day, Jake and Haydn might battle for a spot on a crowded Carolina blue line, but for now, Bean has someone to lean on. 

"It's nice to have a familiar face in Haydn, and someone who knows the organization," he said. "It's been nothing but positive."

Video: Hurricanes draft D Jake Bean No. 13

Bean's father, John, is the chief operating officer of the Calgary Flames. That link to an NHL organization provided a reminder of the teenager's ultimate goal, but only from afar. 

"I didn't get to go in the dressing room and meet the guys growing up," Bean said. "It's more about watching it live. Just to see all of it, including the development camp in the summer, and see those guys up close. It's pretty unique, and not something everyone gets to experience." 

When asked about the likelihood of making a quick transition to the NHL, Bean answered with caution. After all, he knows hockey goals don't always come to fruition immediately. 

"I know there is quite a process to go, so I just try to take it all in," said Bean, who had 64 points in 68 WHL games last season. "Obviously I haven't been exposed to the Hurricanes' values and what they think is important as a team. There's probably more than one or two things. I will try to get to know some of the prospects and learn from some of them who have been here before." 

Bean seems content to let time take its course. 

"There's a lot of work I've got to do," he said. "If I can get bigger and stronger, it's going to give me a greater chance to play in the NHL." 

Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis believes Bean can blossom into a key contributor.

"We think we got a real good puck-moving defensemen," he said. "He has the potential to grow into a guy who can quarterback the power play for us."

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