The Carolina Hurricanes continued their run on defensemen Friday at the NHL Entry Draft.
They also picked up a forward, one with scoring skills to match his impressive size.
For the third straight year, the Canes took a defenseman in the first round of the draft, selecting Jake Bean of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League with the 13th overall pick.
With a second selection in the first round, at No. 21, Carolina took Julien Gauthier, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound winger who scored 41 goals last season for the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Canes made defenseman Noah Hanifin the fifth overall in the 2015 draft, signing him out of Boston College before putting him in the Canes’ lineup last season at 18. Carolina drafted defenseman Haydn Fleury of Red Deer, also in the WHL, with the No. 7 pick in 2014.
“When you’re picking where we are, you want to pick the best player on your list,” Canes general manager Ron Francis said Friday. “We had some forwards there, but there was a run of forwards and we’re really excited Jake was there when we were picking because he was high on our list.”
Bean, born in Calgary, was considered one of the best offensive defensemen in the draft. He had 24 goals and 40 assists in 68 games for Calgary last season.
Asked Friday to describe his playing style, Bean said, “I think I’m a two-way defenseman who can play big minutes against the other team’s top guys. I’m a guy who sees the ice really well and can make a good first pass.”
At 6-foot-1 and 172 pounds, Bean said his biggest weakness was his lack of size, saying, “The biggest thing for me is my strength. In some aspects that’s a good thing because inevitably it will come, just growing into my body. With what I’m doing, it’s coming. If I can incorporate that into my game it will really help me.”
Bean, who turned 18 on June 9, grew up around the NHL. His father, John Bean, is chief operating officer of the Calgary Flames, allowing Jake the opportunity to attend many Flames games and observe NHL players on and off the ice.
Gauthier, in contrast, isn’t lacking strength and has been the consummate gym rat. Both his father and grandfather were champion bodybuilders – each winning Mr. Canada titles – and Gauthier has used their weight-training knowledge in his conditioning routines.
Gauthier’s uncle, Denis, was an NHL defenseman and a former first-round draft pick by the Calgary Flames in 1995.
“He’s a proven goal-scorer in a scoring league, a league that plays a wide-open game,” said Tony MacDonald, Carolina’s director of amateur scouting. “He’s a big man who skates and he has skill. He had 41 (goals) this year.
“His stock was hurt a little when his team was knocked out in the first round of the (QMJHL) playoffs.”
Gauthier, ranked fourth among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings, fell to 12th in the final rankings.
Gauthier, said he tried to emulate the playing style of Rick Nash of the New York Rangers, was the only draft-eligible player to compete for Team Canada in the 2016 World Junior Championship.
“He’s a pretty tenacious player,” MacDonald said. “He has good speed and he uses that speed. He’s in quick on the forecheck.”
MacDonald said Gauthier’s style reminds him somewhat of forward Chris Kreider of the Rangers in that “he’s got that big body and those guys can get in on the forecheck and create havoc and win battles for the puck.”
The Canes had two first-round selections this year after picking up a first-rounder from the Los Angeles Kings in the 2015 trade-deadline deal that sent defenseman Andrej Sekera to the Kings.
The draft continues Saturday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., with the second through the seventh rounds. The Canes have seven selections.
Bean was not drafted by the Western Hockey League in 2013. Now, he’s an NHL first-round draft pick.
“The upside is considerable,” MacDonald said.