The NHL Draft returned north of the border for the first time in a decade Friday in Vancouver. But the league’s annual selection meeting had an American flair to this year’s festivities.
Beginning with top overall pick Jack Hughes, a record eight first-round selections came from the U.S. National Development Team. The Bruins joined in on the American fun after selecting John Beecher with the 30th overall pick.
His offensive stats weren’t anything to write home about, as Beecher produced 43 points in 63 games during his 2018-19 season. But the Bruins brass sees plenty of upside in the 6-foot-3 forward from Elmira, New York.
Bruins fans will have to wait a little while to see Beecher don the Black and Gold. With that in mind, here are a few things to know about Boston’s 2019 first-round selection.
Beecher’s speed stands out.
A plethora of young and talented offensive standouts like Johnny Gaudreau, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, and Connor McDavid (to name a few) helped the league transition from a bruising brand of hockey to a more skilled style of play. This year’s draft had plenty of the aforementioned traits with the likes of Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Darch, Alex Turcotte, and Cole Caufield taking center stage in Vancouver.
Beecher’s skill set isn’t up to par yet compared to some of his fellow 2019 first-round peers. But the power-forward isn’t your typical physical presence who can throw his weight around. He can also skate with the best of them.
Very few players possess a blend of agility, quickness, skill, and physicality. Beecher, who models his game after former Bruin and current Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler, has all four of those traits. General Manager Don Sweeney and Co. hope that his three-zone development comes to fruition by the time he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL level.
He’s Ann Arbor-bound.
Beecher won’t be coming to Boston — or for that matter Providence — at least for another year, maybe two.
The Salisbury School (Conn.) alum will take his talents to the University of Michigan this fall for his freshman season, joining defenseman and fellow first-round selection Cam York (selected 14th overall by the Flyers). Beecher will also team with fellow Bruins prospect and 2015 seventh-round selection Jack Becker — a bottom-six cog during his first two seasons — in Ann Arbor.
Beecher will likely be among the Bruins prospects taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena during next week’s Development Camp. He’ll be back in the New England area Nov. 22-23 when Michigan travels to Durham for a pair of tilts against the University of New Hampshire.
He’s represented his country in international play.
Beecher toured the country with the U.S. NTDP U-18 team going up against some of the best college hockey programs in exhibition play. He also represented the red, white, and blue in international play over the last two years.
Boston’s latest first-round pick earned a gold medal in the World Championships as part of the U.S. U-17 team in 2018, where he tallied a goal in six games. He followed that up with a bronze medal and a four-point outing in the U-18 championships this past season.
Several first-round talents selected Friday, including Turcotte and Caufield, will headline the American roster at this year’s World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. Beecher’s international pedigree makes him a favorite to make the Team USA roster.