If you’re wondering if John Beecher can handle the pressure of being the Bruins’ 2019 first-round draft pick (No. 30 overall) and also prove his doubters wrong after getting selected higher than his second-round projection, keep this in mind.
Growing up in Elmira, New York the 6-foot-3, 209-pound center looked pressure in the eye and defied it in sort of an unexpected way.
“But as baseball goes I was actually a Sox fan growing up as a kid,” Beecher revealed Wednesday after the first day of Bruins development camp at Warrior Ice Arena. “So I mean me and my brother kind of went to the dark side a little bit there, they’re [my parents> Yankees fans. But no, we liked the Sox and I was a Big Papi fan, so it kind of worked out.”
If Beecher can live up to the Bruins’ expectations of him, maybe someday he’ll join the Boston sports pantheon with David Ortiz and other legends. Expectations for Beecher at last week’s NHL Draft were so low, he wasn’t among the 30 or so players asked to pick a walkup song for when his name was called on the first night.
“Nope, I was projected second round so I didn’t get to pick the song. But it’s all right. I don’t even remember it anyways, I kind of blacked out,” he said.
Seeing Beecher still available when they picked was sweet music to the Bruins, who were and are in love with his skating, his speed and his well-rounded game. Already that was all on display even though the prospects mostly just did drills Wednesday.
“Speed,” Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said of his first impressions of Beecher. “I mean even in those drills we’re doing today, he showed a lot of speed. Played with a ton of poise, real calm for an 18-year-old out there. Didn’t get rattled, stays within himself, and super athletic. He’s picking up pucks from bad passes from me no problem. So he has some skill level that’s underrated I think. You know you play behind Jack Hughes and Trevor Zegras and [Alex> Turcotte here, you know those guys maybe got the first kicks but I think he has more skill than people think.”
Beecher, 18, had 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 63 games for the USA Hockey National Development Program last season with those three fellow first-round picks. As much as scouts love his skating, many aren’t enamored with his ability to finish, something he’ll have to prove he can do when he gets to Michigan this fall.
“I haven’t really talked to the coaching staff personally. I mean I personally see myself fulfilling like a top-two line role, helping out on special teams and hopefully helping the team win,” he said.
Having grown up two hours from Buffalo, Beecher was a Sabres fan growing up. Now he’ll have to change his NHL rooting interest, but he can keep his baseball team. If the Bruins fan base had any qualms about his selection, maybe he’s relieved some of them based on his baseball interest alone.
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