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.