On July 23, 2021, the first day of the NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets traded the 44th overall pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Jake Bean.
On Monday, my colleague Dan Greene revisited the trade that sent Cam Atkinson to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Jakub Voracek. Now, with the draft just 15 days until the 2022 NHL draft, let's do the same for the Jake Bean trade.
The second-round selection Columbus used to acquire Jake Bean was one of the selections they received in the Seth Jones trade. The Jackets traded that pick, the 44th overall pick, to Carolina, who used that selection to draft Finnish defenseman Aleksi Heimosalmi.
On the other end of the trade, Bean was a restricted free agent (RFA) heading into the 2021 off-season, and Carolina traded his rights to Columbus. After acquiring him, GM Jarmo Kekalainen signed him to a three-year contract with an annual cap hit of $2,333,333. The contract runs through the 2023-24 season when Bean will be an RFA once again.
In 67 games for the Blue Jackets in 2021-22, Bean scored seven goals and 25 points, while playing 20:34 a night. Among Jackets blue-liners, he finished third in goals, points, and assists, while ranking fourth in average time-on-ice.
Bean makes it look too easy. pic.twitter.com/uTKeNv5ADK— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 22, 2022
Before this season, Bean played in just 44 regular-season NHL games, all with Carolina, scoring a goal and 12 points. He also played in 11 playoff games in 2021, scoring a goal.
Overall, it's difficult to truly assess the "winner" and/or "loser" of this trade because Bean has been with the club for just a year and Heimosalmi hasn't played in the NHL yet. However, Bean gave the Jackets some offense from the back end and showed he could play both left and right defense. Due to multiple injuries sustained throughout the season, Bean played up and down the lineup, while playing the fourth most short-handed minutes and third most power-play minutes among Jackets defensemen.
Bean proved he can be a long-term NHL player this season and is under contract for two more years in Columbus at a team-friendly cap hit. Maybe he hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of a 13th overall pick, especially when the next two defensemen drafted after him were Charlie McAvoy (14th overall) and Jakob Chychrun (16th overall), but he is still just 24 years old, and as I wrote above, proved he belongs in the NHL.
Second helping of Bean's tonight. pic.twitter.com/dWDwk0Dcbn— NHL (@NHL) April 18, 2022
If he continues to showcase his offensive upside over the next two seasons while shoring up his defense, there's no reason why this trade won't be looked upon fondly. Trading a second-round pick for an NHL-quality player makes sense, especially with how unpredictable the success of drafted players is. The trade made sense a year ago, and it makes sense now.