Bruins draft a big, speedy body with first-round pick Beecher

Bruins draft a big, speedy body with first-round pick Beecher

The Bruins knew following the Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues that they needed to get bigger and stronger up front. It may or may not impact what they end up doing this summer to improve their roster, but it certainly informed their decision to draft 6-foot-3, 210-pound center John Beecher with their first-round pick in the NHL Draft on Friday night.

The Bruins had a few different high-end talents to choose from with Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink, Raphael Lavoie and Alex Vlasic all available when the B’s picked 30th overall near the end of the first round. Instead, they opted for the big-bodied, fast-skating center who played more of a supportive role behind centers Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte with the US National Team Development Program last season. He'll seemingly have plenty of room to grow his game once he moves to the University of Michigan next season.

“We think there’s higher upside there, offensively,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney told the NBC Sports Network on the draft broadcast. “The second half of the year he started to score, take more pucks to the net, be more comfortable in situations he’s in. I think there’s a lot more growth left in his game. He’s already 6-3 and over 200 pounds and skating is so paramount in the NHL. He’ll fit in well with our group.”

The pros are obvious. Beecher, 18, is big and will only get bigger while already showing a willingness to use his body to be a net-front presence and win battles along the boards. He skates well for a big center and the combination of size and speed should make him an impact player in the middle of the lineup.

For a team that got pushed around in the Stanley Cup Final by the Blues and couldn’t win enough battles to get to the front of the net, Beecher will help the Bruins reverse that trend once he gets to the NHL. Drafting another impact center also helps prepare the Bruins for the time a couple of years from now when David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will no longer be the 1-2 punch for Boston as their top-six centers.

The cons are also pretty obvious. Many of the qualities and words being used to describe Beecher were similarly used to describe 2016 first-rounder Trent Frederic when he was selected 29th, near the end of the first round. Beecher had only 15 goals and 43 points for the US National Team Development Program last season, so there is a lot of room for him to grow as an offensive player. Beecher is by no means a finished product offensively and that means there may be a limit to his ceiling offensively that keeps him a bottom-six center rather than top six.

Obviously. Frederic is still a top center prospect and had his moments last season, but he didn’t exactly light it up in his first pro season playing for Providence (11 goals, nine assists in 45 games) and Boston (no points in 15 games). One wonders how closely Beecher’s path will track like Frederic's even if it seems the 2019 first-rounder has more speed and playmaking ability than Frederic did at the same stage.

The good news is that the 18-year-old will get some time to develop at his own pace at Michigan next season. The hope is Beecher develops more of that offensive game to realize the potential that the B’s see in him. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.


Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug is comfortably living in his home state of Michigan with his in-laws, his wife, his daughter and his dog right now amidst the coronavirus outbreak and doing his best to stay in shape while running outdoors and working out indoors.

There was no denying, though, that the Bruins defenseman is still adjusting to the abrupt pause button applied to the NHL regular season with about a month left to play ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

“As hockey players along with most people, you’re going to feel a little lost in this situation,” admitted Krug. “But first and foremost, we need to park that and put it aside and realize that there is something bigger [going on] here. If we do have the opportunity to get back playing, then let’s be safe and let’s be smart. Whether it’s the health and safety of the players of jumping right back into hockey from a competitive standpoint or continuing to practice the social distancing cues that we’ve been given, nobody wants to jump back into a situation where we put a bunch of people in one area and it takes off again.

“I hope everyone is staying safe. In some way, shape or form I think we are all connected by the coronavirus. Whether it’s somebody you know or a family member, we’re all in this together. It’s a tough situation, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, hopefully we’ll see each other sooner rather than later.”

Krug has fully recovered from the upper body injury he suffered right before the season stopped and has settled into a routine every day to keep a sense of normalcy, so those are good things amidst a troubling time. But he also voiced just how much he’s missing all his Bruins teammates while confined to the current limbo everybody is living through until the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The picture he painted inside the B’s dressing room was a humorous one, but it also underscored just how much everybody across the country is missing out on their normal day-to-day activities while rightly practicing self-quarantining and social distancing. Krug was quick to say he doesn’t miss getting chirped daily by Brad Marchand, but he does miss many, many other things around the Bruins dressing room after the B’s players scattered.

“It’s just the normal silly stuff that we go back and forth. I’m sure I’ll get chirped for how I look on this video. Anytime something funny comes up we put it in the chat just to keep that bond going,” said Krug, of the group texting that he and his teammates are engaged in right now while spread out from each other. “We do miss the guys and that’s part of the back and forth every day. I just miss the simple conversations.

[I miss] seeing what Pasta is wearing when we walks through the [dressing room] door. [I miss] wondering what kind of mood Chris Wagner is going to be in. Or seeing Chucky [McAvoy] and his big smile walking through the door every day. Trying to make sense of what comes out of Jake DeBrusk’s mouth. There are just so many things that you miss on a daily basis [with the season on pause].

Hopefully for Krug and the rest of the Bruins, the world will soon be in a place where those day-to-day conversations can once again take place in person rather than over video conference technology as it’s been for the last month.

Top 5 things Bruins fans will miss if the rest of the regular season gets axed

Top 5 things Bruins fans will miss if the rest of the regular season gets axed

When the NHL hit the pause button on March 12, the Bruins had just 12 games remaining on their regular-season schedule. It remains to be seen what’s going to happen, but it seems as if there isn’t going to be any way to make them up if the NHL wants to host a full two months of Stanley Cup playoffs over the summer.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Perhaps the NHL will find a way to finish off the final 12 games given the importance to salary-cap projections, but it doesn’t appear realistic. With that in mind, here are the top five things that Bruins fans will miss out on if the NHL does indeed move right to the playoffs when hockey resumes.

1)  We again won’t get to see David Pastrnak get to 50 goals.

That’s right. For the second consecutive season, it appears Pastrnak won’t get to the 50-goal mark due to forces working against him. Last season, it was his own fault as he tore ligaments in his thumb after falling down after a team-sanctioned event and then missed a large chunk of time before returning just ahead of the playoffs. 

Pastrnak was never quite the same in the playoffs likely due to the injury, but he finished the 2018-19 regular season with 38 goals in 66 games. He certainly would have reached 40 goals last season and had a chance at 50 if he’d gone through a late-season hot streak.

This season, Pastrnak was leading the NHL with 48 goals at the time of the shutdown and becoming the first Bruin since Cam Neely to hit the 50-goal mark was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

This time around, the delay is out of Pastrnak’s control in what had been a magical season. Still, it does make you wonder if the hockey gods are determined to keep Pastrnak from reaching 50 goals in a season.

2) Brad Marchand won’t reach 100 points for the second consecutive season.

It wasn’t as much of a lock as Pastrnak getting to 50 goals, but Marchand needed only 13 points in his final 12 games to get back to the century mark. Given that he was averaging over a point-per-game this season, that certainly felt like an achievable goal. 

There haven’t been many 100-point scorers in Bruins history overall, and there have been even fewer players that have done it two seasons in a row. Marchand would have been the first Bruin to accomplish the feat since Adam Oates did it from 1992-94 in back-to-back seasons.

It would have been another impressive notch on his growing resume with the Bruins. If the regular season doesn’t resume, then Marchand will have to settle for 28 goals and 87 points in 70 games.

That's still an extraordinary season for the Bruins agitator as he continues a great career in Boston. But back-to-back 100-point seasons is something not a lot of NHLers can say they accomplished.

3) Patrice Bergeron won’t get to set his career-high in goals. 

To his credit, Bergeron is never going to be a stats guy. He doesn’t care what his final numbers look like and he really never has cared for his own personal stats as long as the team is winning. 

He’s backed that up by winning Stanley Cups, Olympic gold medals, world junior titles and a World Cup. 

This season, Bergeron was also fast approaching a career-high in goals in his 16th NHL season after reaching 32 goals twice in his career, including last season. Bergeron was at 31 and was poised to blow away his prior personal best. He had two goals in four March games before the season was put on hold.

Certainly, it’s not going to break No. 37’s heart if he never gets beyond 32 goals and he still has six 30-goal seasons on his NHL resume, but it would have been fun to see how high he could have pumped the goal total.

4) Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie will miss important transition time.

One of the real disadvantages for the Bruins should they jump right into the playoffs, will be the lack of time that Kase and Ritchie had to jell with their new teammates. 

Kase, 24, had just one assist in six games since arriving in Boston after the trade with the Ducks and Ritchie, 24, was similarly just settling in after playing seven games with the B's since getting swapped for Danton Heinen in a separate deal with Anaheim. 

Kase and Ritchie had settled in as wingers on the second line with David Krejci and it appeared that the three were beginning to develop some chemistry together, but a couple of weeks’ worth of games isn’t nearly enough time to get the players ready for a postseason run.

The good news is that every team is going to be in the same boat when it comes to rust on their collective games, but the new faces are going to be forced into playing catch-up as Kase and Ritchie will be.

5)  We won’t get another regular-season Cup Final rematch in St. Louis.

The Bruins had actually already played most of their big-ticket regular-season matchups at this point in the season, but one game that may get wiped from the schedule was the April 2 Stanley Cup Final rematch in St. Louis against the Blues. 

They had already met for one game earlier in the season in Boston on Oct. 26, when Tuukka Rask pitched a 3-0 shutout in a game where the B’s played exceedingly well. But this second-to-last game of the regular season matchup had all the makings of something that could have turned a little nasty with both teams comfortably in postseason spots. 

Perhaps it will still happen if the NHL tries to shoehorn in a few regular-season games prior to holding a playoff tournament, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.