Bruins Notes: Johnny Beecher Ready To Prove Himself, Make Roster

Beecher was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

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September 24

If there’s someone who’s ready to prove his worth, it’s Johnny Beecher.

The 2019 first-round draft pick has yet to play at the NHL level but has been improving each season. Throughout training camp last week, while centering Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk, Beecher won puck battles and showed flashes of the offense he potentially could bring to the Bruins.

If you followed Beecher during his time at Michigan, you know offense wasn’t exactly his strongest suit, but three goals in as many games during Boston’s rookie tournament in Buffalo certainly was encouraging for Beecher’s development. General manager Don Sweeney likes that Beecher is strong at faceoffs and likes to see him in the middle of the ice.

For Beecher, who will center the top line with Foligno and DeBrusk for Boston’s preseason opener Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, his goal is rather simple coming out of camp.

“Make the team,” he told reporters this week.

“I mean, I’m only 21 years old and I’m definitely not at the peak of my career yet,” Beecher continued. “I’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last six months and I’m excited to show everybody what I’ve got.”

Beecher has a small sample size of games in Providence and potted three goals and amassed two assists in nine games. If we had to guess, Beecher probably starts the 2022-23 NHL season in the AHL. There aren’t many open spots available — especially for a center — and Brad Marchand’s vacancy on the top line likely will be filled by Pavel Zacha.

Plus, Fabian Lysell is knocking on the door of a Bruins debut and Jack Studnicka has been trying to crack the roster for a few seasons now.

That doesn’t mean Beecher won’t give Montgomery something to think about if he continues to have a strong camp and impresses during preseason — especially if he can have continued success winning faceoffs.

“Absolutely,” Montgomery told reporters. “I think any time a player can add something to their repertoire, like winning faceoffs, like being good at getting pucks out on walls, blocking shots, attacking people and making plays, like that’s how you buy minutes and that’s how you are able to add layers to your game, which makes you invaluable.”

Beecher can continue to grow his game and make his case Saturday night against the Flyers.

Here are other notes from this week:

— Zdeno Chara officially retired Tuesday as a member of the Bruins.

The 6-foot-9 defenseman played 24 NHL seasons — 14 of them as the captain of the B’s — and signed a one-day contract to retire with the team he had immense success with, including winning a Stanley Cup in 2011.

Chara revealed that, even though he feels he still could play, he wanted to be home with his family more after spending the last two seasons with the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders while his wife and children remained in Boston.

The surefire Hall of Famer also will have his No. 33 retired by the Bruins. We don’t know when just yet, but team president Cam Neely called it a “no-brainer” during Chara’s retirement press conference at TD Garden.

— There still is no extension with the Bruins and David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak admitted he was just looking forward to having a “normal summer” for the first time in two years, but expressed optimism that a deal would get done in the long run.

— The Bruins on Saturday signed Anton Stralman to a PTO agreement.

The 36-year-old defenseman could provide some depth on the blueline that certainly needs some help with Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk sidelined to begin the season.

“I’ve played this team quite a bit the last few years both with Tampa and the Panthers,” Stralman told reporters Saturday. “It’s always been one of those tough teams to play against, an organization expecting to win and wants to win. That’s exciting.”

Stralman also provides the Bruins another right-shot D-man.

— The Bruins begin their preseason Saturday night on the road against the Flyers. Puck drop from Wells Fargo Center is set for 7 p.m. ET and you can catch the game on NESN.

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Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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