2016 NHL draft: Former Flyer discusses prospect Jake Bean


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Joel Otto knows first hand what Flyers’ fans expect from their team. The veteran of 943 NHL games spent parts of three seasons in Philadelphia and believes prospect Jake Bean could be a fit, if available, when the Flyers make their first-round selection at the NHL draft.

After parts of 14 seasons in the NHL, Otto, 54, has turned to coaching — he is currently an assistant coach with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen.

“[Bean] works hard. Philly fans expect the team to work hard and put everything they have out on the ice. Jake has that quality,” Otto said at last weekend's NHL combine.

“They like winners and I think Jake is a confident kid that believes in himself. He’s a winner in his mind and I think those are some of the things Philly fans certainly like.”

Bean, 18, is coming off his second season with the Hitmen, for whom he scored 24 goals and 40 assists in 68 regular-season games. He added two assists in five playoff games.

Described as a talented skater who handles the puck well, Bean is expected to be a first-round pick later this month at the draft, which will be held in Buffalo. 

“I’m a two-way defenseman, like to play in big games against the other team’s top lines and I like to play in all situations,” Bean said.

NHL Central Scouting had Bean ranked 15th amongst North American skaters in its final rankings. The Hockey News listed him as the 16th best prospect in its Top 100 rankings, while ISS Hockey had Bean at 16 in its draft guide.

The Flyers don’t pick until 18, but Bean could be available (see other options at 18 here), and he did meet with the Philly brass while at the combine. At 6-foot but only 173 pounds Bean will have to work on his strength.

“He’s an averaged size defenseman with excellent offensive instincts and ability to read the game. He always seems to make something happen when he has the puck,” ISS Hockey scouting director Dennis MacInnis said. “However, his defensive zone needs a lot of work. He’s averaged-size, so he really needs to add some size and bulk up. He’s a future asset. He’s two [or] three years away from playing.

“Whoever drafts him, definitely is going to draft him for the future.”

Otto isn’t Bean’s only connection to the Flyers' organization. Bean also played alongside Flyers 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim for much of the season in Calgary.

Playing with a drafted, 20-year-old defenseman in Sanheim was a benefit for Bean, says Otto.

“They sat next to each other in the locker room," Otto said. "Jake’s got all the same goals and aspirations as Travis does. He wants to be a high pick and play in the NHL, he wants to play on Team Canada at world juniors — I’m sure he picked Travis’ brain all year.

"Our offense didn’t come from our forwards as much as we wanted to this year. Unfortunately, we relied on Travis and Jake for a lot of our creativity and our offense from the back end. At times, they were probably over doing it.”

Bean admitted he and Sanheim had discussed the possibility of winding up in the Flyers' organization together.

“Nothing too seriously, but a little bit of fun stuff,” he said.

The Calgary native says he tries to model his game after Anaheim’s Cam Fowler and Chicago’s Duncan Keith. Despite being a couple years away from the pro game, Bean knows what he needs to do to get there.

“For me, my biggest thing is strength and I know with time that’s going come, and with what I’ve been doing," he said. "I think if I can just keep on the right track, I’ll be just OK. I think if I can add that, inevitably it will come with time, growing into my body, and I think it would really help my overall game.”

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