It's very, very early in Jake Bean's Blue Jackets career.
It would not do any good to overreact after one preseason game. However, Bean was excellent last night in his Blue Jackets debut. If his play last night is indicative of what's to come, Blue Jackets fans should be very excited.
The Blue Jackets brought the left-handed defenseman over this summer in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. Bean, 23, was the Hurricanes' first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. Despite his pedigree, Bean struggled for playing time on a loaded Carolina blue line, and a change of scenery made sense.
The 23-year-old played on the Blue Jackets' top pair with Vladislav Gavrikov last night as both he and Gavrikov notched goals. Bean also tallied a pair of assists while leading the Blue Jackets in ice time with a whopping 26:29, including 3:30 on the power play and 2:09 on the penalty kill.
"I like playing with Gavvy...he's really solid on both ends of the ice," said Bean after the game. "He can play offense, he can play defense. It's pretty easy to play with a guy like that, so if I continue to have the opportunity to play with him, I'll definitely run with it."
The Blue Jackets' top pair will likely be comprised of Zach Werenski and Adam Boqvist. Gavrikov is a surefire bet to be on the second pair, and it's likely Bean's spot to lose as the final top-four defenseman.
"I want to be a guy who can play top minutes against the other team's top guys, and play on both ends of the ice (while) contributing offensively and defensively...I'm just going to continue to do the right things, play honest defense, and figure out my game because usually once I settle in I get better and better," said Bean.
Below Bean, it's a bit of a wild guess as to who will fill the last spots in the lineup. Mikko Lehtonen left the Blue Jackets' first preseason game with a lower-body injury, which leaves Scott Harrington, Andrew Peeke, Gabriel Carlsson, and Dean Kukan as four defensemen vying for two spots in the starting lineup. We'll see Harrington, Kukan, and Carlsson tonight in preseason action as the Blue Jackets host the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena.