( Photo Credit:  Daryl Marshke | UM Photography )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last week the annual Boston Bruins development camp from the Warrior Ice Arena saw recent organizational prospects in attendance along with talented camp invites to round out the roster. Bruins forward prospect and 2019 first-round selection John Beecher was at the Brighton, Massachusetts training facility for his second development camp festivities after missing last summer’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After a decent freshman year for the University of Michigan that saw Beecher post 9-7-16 numbers in 31 games, his sophomore campaign came with many trials and tribulations.

The 6′-3″ 209-pound New York native went into his second year of NCAA Division 1 hockey with a noticeable pain in his shoulder. In a The Michigan Daily article published on February 28th, 2021, author Brendan Roose interviewed Wolverines Head Coach Mel Pearson, providing these details about the “key contributor” of his forward core. “It’s been an ongoing thing Pearson said. “He’s played through it all year pretty much, and it just keeps getting aggravated, so we just got to shut him down for awhile.” Beecher underwent successful shoulder surgery and was later reported by Boston Bruins director of player development and personal player advisor Jamie Langenbrunner that the big skilled, versatile forward would be ready to get back to work this fall.

Previous to his shoulder surgery, the young Beecher was, unfortunately, a victim of the strict IIHF International rules when he was cut from Team USA when he provided a positive test for Covid-19. John and his Team USA roommate and NCAA Michigan teammate Thomas Bordeleau were both removed from the World Juniors training camp with the team’s final cuts. Beecher tested positive while at camp to later be removed and tested twice, resulting in consecutive false negatives. Bordeleau never once tested positive and was an unfortunate casualty to the mentioned strict IIHF Covid protocols. During the 2020/21 Wolverines regular season, Beecher had 4-4-8 numbers in 16 games played before shutting down his sophomore year with the upper-body injury.

Remarkably, after five months of post-surgery and rehabilitation, Beecher was in attendance at the Warrior Ice Arena facility for the week-long development camp sporting the red “no-contact” jersey. In an article on the official Boston Bruins website / NHL.com, reporter Eric Russo interviewed the big up-and-coming Beecher, who had this to say pretty much confirming that he’ll return to Michigan for his junior year. “It’s an exciting year coming up, for sure,” Beecher said following Day 1 of Bruins Development Camp at Warrior Ice Arena. “We have so much skill on the front end and a lot of depth with our D. I’m really looking forward to it. Coming back as a junior – I don’t know how it’s happened, but the time is flying by – I want to be a huge leader on this team, especially for the younger guys that are just getting on campus and trying to get their footing in there.

“As for my role on the team, I think it will just play out throughout the year and hopefully be a shutdown role-playing top minutes, PK, PP, and do whatever I can to help the team win.”

The University of Michigan team had four members selected in the first round of the 2021 National Hockey League entry draft, so it was literally a no-brainer for Beecher to continue his development for another year in the NCAA. With names like defenseman Owen Power, forward Matthew Beniers, forward Kent Johnson, and defenseman Luke Hughes, not only does Beecher have development on his mind but also an NCAA National Championship if the four mentioned above elect to return to school. Not a bad idea for John to return to the Wolverines in an effort to increase his playing resume and walk away earning some significant hardware before signing his first pro-entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins.

In my opinion, Beecher is a work-in-progress, and it remains to be seen where the NHL Bruins insert him into a future lineup. While being a natural center, Michigan Coach Mel Pearson has also inserted John on the left-wing so much like what the Bruins organization has done with prospect forward Jack Studnicka in the past, starting your NHL career in your natural position may not happen with the future landscape of contracted forwards up the middle. Having positional versatility seems to be something the Bruins like covert because of the availability to make adjustments on the fly.

Regardless of the upcoming NCAA season at Michigan, when Beecher turns pro, I believe a full season in the AHL with the Providence Bruins would be beneficial to both the player and the NHL organization. The top minor-pro affiliate of the B’s might not be appealing to the prospect ranking hockey experts out there, but you cannot deny the effort these players accompanied by coaching staff has made in the last several years. Particularly the last two seasons where this AHL franchise could’ve won at least a Calder Cup once if the Covid-19 pandemic never happened.