BostonBruins.com - At the end of June, John Beecher was drafted into the NHL. To close out July, he represented the USA at the World Junior Summer Showcase in hopes of making the 2019 U20 World Junior Squad. In a few weeks, the smooth skating center will relocate to Ann Arbor for his freshman year at the Unviersity of Michigan.
It's safe to say, the Bruins 2019 1st round selection has had an eventful summer.
"I think just the biggest thing for me is just kind of taking it one step at a time," said the Elmira, New York native. "I mean, my biggest focus right now is Michigan. Obviously heading over there within this month, I'm really looking forward to it. I think the biggest thing is just not getting too far ahead of yourself and just kind of taking what comes and just taking one step at a time with everything and just enjoying the process."
That mindset has allowed Beecher to excel at every level, even as his surroundings have changed.
"At the end of the day it just gives you so many more opportunities down the road and you just get to meet so many more people," said Beecher. "I think at the end of the day it's just kind of one of those things where you kind of have to balance everything evenly, whether that's scheduling times to talk to certain people or just trying to figure things out as best as you can."
Video: Bruins 2019 1st round pick Beecher talks dev camp
The 18-year-old has relied on those around him as he balances a number of different commitments.
"I get a lot of help with that stuff from my parents and my advisor and everybody who kind of just comes along through the journey," said Beecher. "I've gotten a lot of help through them and I really appreciate it because obviously it can get pretty hectic and being an 18-year old, you don't have the best time management in the world and you're not really as mature as some of the pro guys who know how to handle it well. So, I mean, having those guys to kind of lean and help you is awesome."
A big part of his journey has been his progression in the National Team Development Program (NTDP), where he played and practiced for two years alongside an elite crop of skaters.
"I think at the end of the day you go into practice every day and, I mean, whether you're feeling great or not, you have to go out there and you've got to battle as hard as you can," said Beecher. "Because if you're not, it's going to be noticeable. Everybody's really kind of pushing each out there and just trying to get as best as they can out of themselves and everybody around them. I definitely think that's a huge part of why the program has had the success that it has, and like I said, all the guys on our team were unbelievable friends."
The team experienced unprecedented success on and off the ice. At the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, 17 skaters from Beecher's team were chosen - the most draftees selected from one team in NHL history.
"We all wanted the best out of each other so being able to see all of those guys go in the draft, I was so happy for them," said Beecher. "I know how hard they've worked, and they earned it all, so it was a lot of fun."
Last week, the group was back together for the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase. The event pits U20 teams from each participating country against each other as players vie for a spot on the final roster.
"I miss the guys like crazy and I mean, honestly for the first couple of days it really did just kind of feel like we were back for the next year, but obviously that's not the case," said Beecher. "It was awesome. I think after everything happened with the draft and everybody being picked, I think the great thing about us is nothing really changed. We still look at all of each other the same and I think at the end of the day we're just maybe even closer because of it."
The draft has created a number of interesting dynamics between the close-knit group, including Beecher and Cole Caufield, who was drafted by the rival Montreal Canadiens.
"He's going to Wisconsin next year, so I'll be battling with him next year as well," said Beecher. "Obviously, it's kind of funny how things work out. I'm extremely good friends with Cole and I mean, I wish him nothing but the best of luck down the road, but if we match up against each other, it won't be all hugs and smiles, I can tell you that. He's a great guy and an unbelievable player and I couldn't be happier for him. It'll be fun to square off against him and see who comes out on top."
Video: Bruins draft F John Beecher No. 30
While the duo could be on opposite sides of a rivalry for years to come, they will have a final chance to share the ice as teammates if they are both to make the final World Junior roster. Making the team has been a childhood dream for Beecher.
"I grew up watching it every year as a kid and I even got to see the Summer Showcase once or twice out in Lake Placid," said Beecher. "To see the names that have come through it and the history of the tournament and everything that goes along with it, it's exciting to be a part of that. This past week was unbelievable, and obviously just any chance you can get to put on the USA sweater and represent your country, it's unbelievable."
"On a stage like that, it makes it even bigger. I think for me, the biggest thing was just kind of soaking it all in. I didn't really want to take anything for granted there, not very many people get that opportunity to play in that tournament and it's something I'm fighting for to get in there and be able to play for my country in December."
If the Summer Showcase is any indication, Bruins fans should like their chances of Beecher representing the red, while and blue in a few month's time. In five games, Beecher showed off a knack for finding the back of the net, scoring four goals while displaying an elite combination of skating and size.
"I think it's been a big part of my summer so far," said Beecher of developing his goal scoring. "I've been really kind of working on, you know - obviously last year I didn't really put up the numbers I think I could have if I really kind of honed that skill. I think the work that I'm putting in this summer is really starting to pay off.
"I think I kind of did the same amount of things throughout the past two years, I'm still playing my same style of game and I'm still doing what I can do out there, but I think at the end of the day, having that last little touch where you can put the puck in the back of the net and beat the goaltender is huge. It's been a huge part of my training this summer and I'm glad that it paid off this past week and hopefully I can continue to work on it and get better."
Beecher's offseason focus has not been limited to just finishing.
"I think a big thing for me is just in-tight plays," said Beecher. "A big thing I've been working with this summer is the power-edge pro stuff, and I think it's great to kind of help develop that skill. You've got those little trinkets everywhere and you kind of got to make your way through them, so I think it's really going to help develop that for me so far. I'm excited to keep working on it and see where it can take my game."
All his hard work will be on display at Michigan in the Fall, and likely at the World Juniors shortly thereafter. If he continues on his path, all that work could be seen in Boston sooner than later.