The strength the U.S. National Team Development Program this season helped some otherwise lesser known players get a chance to play with some really talented prospects. On the flip side, it also meant some players that may have received a larger role in other years saw their ice-time minimized.
That brings us to John Beecher, a big power forward-type centre who was mostly lower in the lineup as the big names on the team ran roughshod over the competition. Despite this, he produced well with the ice-time afforded to him and should be a player worth considering in the middle of the second round onward.
We’ll break down the season that was and what to expect from him next year and beyond.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / April 5, 2001
- Birthplace: Elmira, NY, USA
- Frame: 6-foot-3 / 209 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: U.S. National Team Development Program
- U17 WHC Gold Medal
- U18 WJC Bronze Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
(Editor’s note on the stats and charts in this article: the U.S. National Team Development Program is a unique program in that its roster plays in several different leagues over the course of the season. Typically, we’ve just used their stats against USHL competition. However, this year their NCAA stats have also been incorporated in some circumstances.
Games played, goals, assists, points and shot data include all U.S. NTDP games. Any data derived from game sheets (involvement percentage, eP60, SEAL data, and on-ice data), as well as any charts that reference “USDP” as the league refer to U.S. NTDP games against both USHL and NCAA competition. pGPS data is based off of USHL games alone.)
Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, Beecher uses his size effectively to dictate what happens on the ice.
Beecher can lean on a power forward game, which includes driving the net, battling in front, and protecting his space without giving an inch. He has soft hands for a big guy in the sense that he doesn’t just rely on whacking away at the puck, but can move and drag it around opponents to adjust shooting lines in tight.
The Elmira-born centre is primarily a playmaker displaying that soft touch with his ability to thread passes over opponents sticks. In particular, he is good at making a quick move here and there to open a lane, and then firing it through the seem.
When allowed to lean into the flex of his shot, his wrist and snapshot can have some serious power to it. He leans heavily on his stick to whip it.
Overall, Beecher has a well-rounded offensive game that isn’t always predictable.
Beecher’s skating is above average with good power generation through long strides. He doesn’t have fantastic acceleration but he gets where he needs to well enough and does seem to have an impressive top speed that can keep up with anyone. He is particularly strong on his feet giving him great balance.
His defensive game is mature in the sense that he is strong in shutting down opponents through a mix of using an active stick and physical play. There is very little concern about his defensive play as he combines a great read of the play, physicality, and being on the ‘right side of the puck’ to eliminate almost everything that comes at him in his own zone.
The left-handed centre saw regular time on the penalty kill and was really effective at keeping his opponents to the outside by using all the aforementioned attributes to his advantage.
There isn’t a lot of flash and dash to his game but Beecher isn’t just some bulky defensive centre either. He has some tangible offensive skills and plays a mature game that makes it really easy to envision him as a centre in the NHL.
Aside from having a great name, Beecher is a very interesting case in ‘what could’ve been’ had he been afforded a larger role with the program. He was almost exclusively a third line centre for the team and didn’t see any time on the man advantage.
Based on the standard estimated time on ice formula, you can see that Beecher’s deployment was limited.
Averaging in and around 10 minutes a night of 5-on-5 play doesn’t really give anyone the best chance to produce offence, let alone being asked to be the third line centre. But as we can see, Beecher did well with his scoring rates in that ice-time. It gives serious validation to the idea that he might’ve produced more with a larger role, even if it was plunking him in front of the net on the man advantage.
Using pGPS on Beecher, we get the following chart:
The 6-foot-3 centre has an 19% estimated likelihood of becoming an NHL regular when we look at his statistical cohorts. There are some interesting names in there with J.T. Miller, David Backers, Patrick Sharp, and Max Pacioretty among the matches. That does give a pretty positive outlook on a player of his size.
No matter how quickly things trend towards speed and skill, there will still be a size bias towards players that can play the ‘big boy hockey’ (and this current Stanley Cup Final is a prime example). Luckily, Beecher is a player that has the skills to compliment his size.
Beecher will head to the University of Michigan next season and could be given a big role as Josh Norris will be joining the Ottawa Senators. If he is able to secure a top-six role with the Wolverines, I think that Beecher will be able to take a tangible step forward. The underlying numbers suggest that he has more to give and there is little to quibble about in terms of his two-way play.
He isn’t a perfect player in any sense but as a mid-second round prospect, Beecher is a player that is worth keeping an eye on.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com, ushl.com and collegehockeyinc.com
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out John Beecher page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
Father of two and decent husband.
I watch the game.