Bruins’ Beecher Will Benefit From Expanded Role in AHL

When John Beecher was playing for the University of Michigan, he was surrounded by high-end talent who all deserved looks with the puck on their sticks. With players like Matty Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Luke Hughes, Kent Johnson, Thomas Bordeleau, Owen Power, Mackie Samoskevich and more on the roster, Beecher wasn’t able to solidify himself as a star among his peers.

John Beecher Bruins Draft
John Beecher has the chance to flourish in a more prominent role with the Providence Bruins, putting him on track to be a regular with the Boston Bruins one day. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In fact, Beecher would finish the season tied for 11th in goals (six) and 12th in points (15), in 34 games; he’d finish his collegiate career with just 19 goals and 39 points in 81 games. While these numbers don’t jump off the screen, there’s still a lot to like about Beecher’s potential at the next level and his development is going well according to the Bruins.

“I think you’ve seen a maturity and growth,” Bruins director of player development Jamie Langenbrunner said of Beecher’s development. “Just a different mindset he’s had. He’s really beginning to understand what’s going to make him an effective player. He’s building that consistency into his game that he’s going to need to have at this level. A healthy year last year really bought into the role that they needed him to do, which was being a third-line, penalty-kill guy, shutdown [role]. And he did a very good job and scored some timely goals as well.”

Langenbrunner’s evaluation of McQuaid included a very important distinction that many who are simply boxscore watching might ignore; Beecher’s role with the team wasn’t to be an offensive juggernaut with Michigan. As mentioned, they had talent in spades and not everybody was able to feature in a prominent offensive role. This may cause some to sour on Beecher’s potential, but the Bruins are choosing to look at this as a positive instead.

“He was on, obviously, a really good team,” said Bruins’ player development coordinator Adam McQuaid. “A lot of high picks. A lot of offensive guys. Kind of put in more of a defensive situation and the encouraging part of that was his details got a lot better. He got better on draws. He was good defensively. He killed penalties. I thought his engagement level got better on a more consistent basis. He’s a big guy that can skate and when he’s physical, he can be a force. So just trying to consistently get him to use his strengths and we’ll see where it goes. But again, a guy that has a lot to offer and someone we’re excited about.”

Beecher’s Offensive Game Will Grow in Providence

Getting the opportunity to play a more complete role and use his size, six foot three, 210 pounds, and skill to his advantage in a role outside of the offensive zone was good for Beecher’s progression. While he was able to round out his game and play in any role asked of him, he could find himself flourishing in a full season with the Providence Bruins next season should he be featured in a more prominent role.

He should be put into a situation to succeed and use his offensive abilities to the fullest; something we’ve already seen from his brief time in Providence.

In nine games with the Providence Bruins last season, Beecher would score three goals and five points; he’d also add an assist in two playoff games. Getting the opportunity to participate in a full training camp with the Bruins this offseason and play within the Bruins’ system in a way that they want to deploy him should do wonders for his confidence and trajectory from prospect to player.

Related: Bruins Re-Signing Studnicka Provides More Options in 2022-23

One area that Beecher himself feels he need to work on is his ability to put the puck in the net, something he’s mentioned he’s already been working to improve.

“I’m dissecting the shot, where to look at goalies when you’re coming down at certain angles, things like that,” said Beecher. “Obviously I’m still trying to get better in all areas, but that’s definitely been a big focus for me this offseason.”

Having a clear goal and an area to improve is good for Beecher, though the Bruins will also have their own plans for his development as well. He’s proven willing to do what the team asks of him in the past, though, so this doesn’t appear like it’ll be an issue whatsoever, especially if the Bruins have similar aspirations for Beecher’s progression and development.

The Bruins are in desperate need of center depth developing into legitimate NHL talent in the near future. Though it feels like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eventually signing this offseason is a foregone conclusion, the team needs players like Beecher and recently re-signed Jack Studnicka to develop into full-time players sooner rather than later to help transition this team from the current core to its next core.

The Bruins were high on Beecher when they took him 30th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and those feelings haven’t seemed to change. Now that he’s in the system and can get a full AHL season under his belt, the team will be able to evaluate him more closely and determine if and when he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL. It likely won’t come during the 2022-23 season, barring any sort of emergency call-up opportunities that may arise, but a regular role in the 2023-24 season is far from out of the question; though it’s also not a certainty.