2019 first-round draft pick Johnny Beecher, who ended his sophomore year at Michigan with a season-ending shoulder surgery and unsure of his future plans, will wait at least one more year to turn pro.
Beecher noted that his decision to stay with the Wolverines was not influenced by the fact that he played just 16 games in 2020-21, but comes with a timeline that fast tracks him to be ready for the start of the 2021-22 season in Ann Arbor.
“I mean, our biggest thought with that was just kind of if we did it when we did it when we did, I’d be back to 100 percent [in] mid-August,” Beecher said following the first day of 2021 development camp at Warrior Ice Arena. “That’s basically right at the time when we get back to school and I wanted to hit the ground running as soon as we got on campus. And I wanted to have a couple of months there to kind of get re-acclimated to the contact and just get ready for the season.”
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Beecher has been a solid contributor for Michigan over his first two seasons, with 13 goals and 24 points in 47 games, but is certainly jumping into a new role of sorts in 2021-22, with the Wolverines set to have a straight-up loaded roster full of high-end talents and top draft picks from the 2021 NHL Draft.
“We have so much skill in the front end and then a lot of depth with our D, so I’m really looking forward to it,” Beecher said of the upcoming move back to Michigan. “I’m coming back as a junior, so I don’t know how it’s happened, but the time is flying by and 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.
“So, I mean, that’s my role on the team. And I think it’ll just kind of play out throughout the year and hopefully [I will] be a shutdown role playing minutes, [on the] PK, PP, and just do whatever I can to help the team win.”
As for the focus with this week in Brighton and under the watchful eyes of B’s coaches and management, it’s about the little tweaks and an improved know-how between the ears that will remain a point of emphasis for the New York native.
“I think my biggest thing still is just the off-ice side of the game,” Beecher said “Just kind of building my hockey IQ, knowing when to put pucks where and just being better away from the puck, better finishing. So just little things like that will make a big difference down the road. And I mean, just like the mental side of the game just getting smarter and older and just kind of growing as the years go on. So that’s been a big focus of mine.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.