ST. PAUL, MN – SEPTEMBER 19: Team Leopold forward John Beecher (17) skates with the puck during the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game between Team Leopold and Team Langenbrunner on September 19, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. Team Leopold defeated Team Langenbrunner 6-4.
(Photo by Nick Wosika / Icon Sportswire)

COHEN: John Beecher Could be a Surprise First Round Pick

John Beecher is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound centre who played this season for the United States National Team Development Program, known as the USNTDP for short.

Because of the overwhelming talent down the middle of that roster — with Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras, and Alex Turcotte — Beecher found himself in a third line centre role. On so many other teams at that level, he would have been a first- or second-line center. As a result, his 15 goals and 43 points in 63 games don’t tell the story.

“I may have gone out for three or four power plays throughout the year. Not very much,” Beecher told EP Rinkside. “I think finding your role before the program you’re a first line center and you’re the go-to guy and then coming in they have all the talent in the world.”

“I think to add to the depth chart you have to add those guys who can play the grind game. Maybe just kind of wear down teams. Just doing the little things like winning face-offs and kill penalties.” Beecher continued, “it helps you win games. It helps you win tournaments. If you know you’re going to be one of those guys you have to accept that role and use that play to the best of your ability.”

Beecher doesn’t get looked at as a speedster, but he gets around the ice well enough. Sometimes you have to see a player more than a few times to be able to appreciate how quick he gets down the ice and how he causes problems when he’s barreling down the wing.

“I think the biggest thing is my skating,” Beecher said. “Coming down the wing, with my stride, it looks like my legs aren’t moving very fast but at the end of my stride, I’m generating a lot of power and getting a lot of speed going through it. I think it’s a big thing for me, just being able to go wide and get around guys and get to the corner.”

“Also, my ability to use my body down low. Just be able to take pucks off the yellow and get them off the point and to the front of the net. Just be a big heavy presence on the ice who just tries to win every battle and do everything right.”

A New York native, Beecher attended the Salisbury Prep school in Connecticut. They have dorms and like all players who do this, he had to adjust to life away from home.

“I lived my whole life in New York, and it would take a two-hour commute just to get to practice and it kind of took a toll on my parents and me. We just chose to look at a couple of prep schools on the weekends. We stumbled upon Salisbury and when we hit the campus, we knew it,” Beecher stated.

“It was tough. I’m really close with my family. Moving away from home, at a young age, it was my sophomore year in high school. It was tough at first. I was a little hesitant on the whole idea of moving away. Just leaving my family and friends, starting a new lifestyle. By the time I got there the biggest thing that helped me adjust was being with the guys. It’s an all guys school and really heavy into sports. Once I got on campus and on the ice, it clicked in my mind that this was the right place for me. I have lifelong friends and memories from that place. I’m really glad that I went. It was one of the best years of my life, it was awesome.”

At the Under-18 World Hockey Championships, Beecher had a two-goal game and ending up with three in seven tournament games. He loved the experience even though the team didn’t accomplish their main goal. Still, they took home the bronze and that’s a positive.

“The U18 tournament was awesome. Not the outcome we wanted but at the end of the day we still had a really good showing,” Beecher said. “We went six and one, it’s a tough way to end it on a shootout but the guys battled out there. It was a great experience. At the end of the day, it’s more than that. It may be even bigger than the medal. We’ve learned a lot from this whole process. We can take these lessons through life in hockey, and our careers, in jobs and things like that.”

When this prospect gets to the combine, I suspect he’ll shine in the testing portion and especially in the interview process. So far, he may not be expected to be a first rounder, but it only takes one team. Keep an eye on him. He may go somewhere in the ’30s but it’s still undecided whether or not that’ll be on day one or day two.

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