The Hurricanes can do many things with their selection, as they are finally in a place where they are not having to fill a need with the pick. Instead, they can either bolster their prospect group with another solid prospect, or improve their NHL roster via trade, an outcome which would not be surprising in the least. Owner Tom Dundon has been on record with his feelings of (not) drafting defensemen in the first round, so if he has any say in the decision-making process it’s pretty obvious where the focus will be positionally. Therefore, our focus will be on some of the forwards who will be available at the end of the first round, with maybe a surprise thrown in.
- DOB: 4/5/2001
- Team: USNTDP
- Center | Shoots: L | 6’3”, 210 pounds
- 2018-19 Stats: 63 GP - 15G, 28A, 43 points, 88 PIM
When playing in a lineup as dominant as this year’s USNTDP, where six of the team’s forwards could go in the top 15 picks in the draft, there will always be players who get overshadowed. Beecher was the Swiss-army knife of the team, filling in up and down the lineup, playing in all situations and excelling in less ice time than you would typically expect a potential first-round pick on any other team to play. As he continues to add responsibility, we could look back down the line and wonder why he was drafted when he was in the first round.
Beecher is a big man, and he will play his full freshman season at the University of Michigan as an 18-year-old next year. As a young player in his birth year, and with the added awkwardness of still filling out his 6’3” frame, there is a lot to like in terms of his potential development offensively as he grows as a prospect.
Much of Beecher’s game is projectable to the next level. However, like with most players who could be drafted at the end of the first round, he will need time to develop and continue to grow.
For a big-bodied center, he moves very well, with good top end speed and agility. Beecher plays an in your face, grinding style which projects very well to the cycle, possession oriented game that Carolina prefers. If he loses possession, he will work to separate an opposing player from the puck to win it back for his team.
As he continues to gain strength, it will be a chore for defenders to move him from the front of the net, or knock him off the puck. The pivot has a nasty streak to him, and is not afraid to throw his body around along the boards, where he has a decided advantage physically.
In terms of scoring upside, some of Beecher’s ultimate potential is untapped. He’s smart, with and without the puck, which leads to him generally being in the soft areas of the ice to create and capitalize on scoring opportunities. He has a tremendous shot, an asset which will presumably be used from the slot numerous times over the course of his career. His future is going to be a circles and below net front finisher, and likely a mainstay in front of opposing goaltenders on the power play.
As forwards drop to the end of the first round, typically it’s because they have a couple of elite projectable skills, but may not be a finished product. The fact that Beecher is going the college hockey route will give him multiple years to develop in a structured system; however, the only drawback is the fact that it opens up whichever team drafts him for the college free agent scenario that has not played out well for the Hurricanes in the past. Beecher would be a welcome addition to the prospect group and another in a long line of big, two-way centers to join the Carolina system.