Calgary Hitmen blueliner Jake Bean has brought former NHL GM Cliff Fletcher’s famous “draft schmaft” quote to life in his young hockey career. He has blossomed into one of the top 1998-born talents in the WHL even though all 22 teams passed him over in the 2013 bantam draft.
“I went into the draft hoping that I would be drafted,” says Bean, who was listed by the Hitmen after his bantam draft. “I felt I had a good bantam year and had a good chance of being drafted, but I wasn’t devastated when it didn’t happen. I was disappointed, but not devastated. It also gave me some motivation to work harder, so some good came out of it."
The 6-foot, 172-pound Bean, who posted 19 goals and 53 points in 57 games with Calgary’s Edge Athletics in his bantam draft year, feels there’s a combination of reasons for why he was passed over in the draft. He believes scouts underestimated him while being aware of how it took him longer to develop and fulfill his potential than some of his peers.
“I think it was both (underestimated and a late bloomer) then,” says Bean, whom NHL Central Scouting Service ranked as a B-list prospect (potential second or third rounder) in its September list. “I hit my stride a bit later than other guys my age. I also didn’t have the size and strength that some players my age had then. I progressed a bit later than some.”
Bean, 17, truly showed that he’s a legit NHL prospect as a rookie with the Hitmen last season. He tallied five markers and 39 points in 51 games while showcasing his elite vision, solid shot and fluid skating ability.
“A lot of things played into my season last year,” he says. “I think a lot of hard work in the past paid off. I also was a part of a special group and received the opportunity to play in key situations.”
As a native of Calgary, Alta., Bean feels living at home helped him transition from midget to major junior. He pointed to homemade meals and the comforts of his parent’s home as benefits to playing for his hometown’s WHL club.
“It is a big transition and it helped to stay living at home,” says Bean, who has scored seven goals and 14 points in 12 matches this season. “It’s easier to make the transition when you’re sleeping in your own bed and having home cooked meals. It definitely helped because that was one thing I didn’t have worry about.”
1. Do you model your game after a player in the NHL?
“(Anaheim Ducks defenceman) Cam Fowler. He’s a smart defenceman who has speed and makes a good first pass. I try to play like him.”
2. Do you have a favourite NHL team?
“I wouldn’t say they are my favourite, but I’d go with the Flames. I grew up watching them and have enjoyed watching them lately with the success they had last year.”
3. You spent two years at Edge Athletics in Calgary before joining the Hitmen. What was your experience like there?
“Playing at Edge was an important couple of years in my development. They have great coaches there and great facilities to help develop players. You can also get as much ice as you want, so you can skate a lot and get in a lot of extra practice and training to help improve your game."
4. Do you have a favourite rink you like to play in on the road?
“I like playing in Red Deer (at the ENMAX Centrium). We’re pretty big rivals and it always seems to be a good game.”
5. What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
“I’m going to go with Family Guy. It’s a good comedy and I like the jokes in it.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen