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Beecher sees Bruins as perfect fit for his skill set

Forward prospect has speed, offensive ability, physicality to match Boston's style of play

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- John Beecher is looking forward to being a big man on campus.

The 18-year-old center, selected by the Boston Bruins with the No. 30 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, will be a freshman at the University of Michigan, where the 6-foot-3, 212-pound prospect hopes to put up big numbers.

"Definitely, I think with more opportunity, more offense will start to come," Beecher said during Bruins development camp in June. "And I can't wait to get over there and start that journey. So I'm really looking forward to it, it'll be a lot of fun."

Offense has not been lacking in Beecher's game; he had 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 60 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-17 team in 2017-18, and 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 63 games for the NTDP Under-18 team last season.

Video: Bruins draft F John Beecher No. 30

But Beecher was playing in the shadows of some prolific players among the record-setting 17 selected from the NTDP in the 2019 draft, including eight in the first round. Center Jack Hughes, taken No. 1 by the New Jersey Devils, had 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games, and forward Cole Caufield, chosen at No. 15 by the Montreal Canadiens had 100 points (72 goals, 28 assists) in 64 games.

The Bruins envision Beecher thriving and furthering his development in a larger, more offensive role at Michigan. Boston is hoping he can take the same step as center Trent Frederic, who was selected by the Bruins with the No. 29 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and had 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) in two seasons at the University of Wisconsin from 2016-18.

"All indication is [Beecher is] going to be in the top six," Boston player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. "Obviously [Josh] Norris leaving [Michigan], signing with [the Ottawa Senators], opens up a center spot, another one that maybe they weren't anticipating. 

"Obviously a school that's done a good job of developing players. [Beecher is] obviously a big guy, but he's still definitely not developed, which is exciting for us. You know, he's still a little bit skinny and all that."

If Beecher does eventually make it to the NHL with the Bruins, he said he doesn't think he'll have to change much of his game.

"I think my style fits right in with theirs. ... They're a hard and heavy team to play against with a lot of speed and that's exactly how I play," he said. "I don't think I could've gone to a better place."

One area where Beecher already has a leg up on the competition is his skating, which has made him stand out at every level. The native of Elmira, New York first took lessons as an 11-year-old with Dean Jackson, now an assistant with the women's ice hockey team at Cornell.

"The skating just stands out," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said. "I mean, you get into the situational stuff, the 3-on-3, the 4-on-3 that the game requires now for a guy, it comes easy to him at times. So we can think about putting some details into his game moving forward, getting even stronger and some of the nuances that [he's] going to have to learn. In a smaller-area game … he's pretty effective."

Beecher said he is looking forward to playing in Boston, a city that has won its share of championships the past two decades.

"You know obviously the city's amazing," he said. "I mean the support that they get from their fans and the success they've had, it's tremendous. You know I don't really know if there's a better fan base in all of sports. Obviously you've got the [Red Sox] and the Patriots and everything like that. So it's a fun city to be a part of."



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