Name: Kevin Beech
Weight: 177 lbs
Acquired: 2005 Entry Draft, 6th Round, 165 Overall
Kevin Beech was selected by the Sudbury Wolves in the 14th round, 267th overall, of the 2002 OHL Priority Draft out of the Brantford hockey program. Beech wouldn't make his major junior debut until the 2003-2004 season however going 3-9-0 with a .901 save percentage and 3.55 GAA in 16 appearances in the Wolves as a backup to Patrick Ehelechner, the German born Sharks 2003 draft pick. In 2004-2005 Beech again spent the majority of the season backing up Ehelechner but by season's end was challenging for Sudbury's starting job and took over the starting job for Sudbury late in their playoff run. Impressed by Beech's 9-9-2 record, 2.65 GAA and .912 save percentage with 2 shutouts in the regular season and his 2-1-0, 2.61 GAA and .922 save percentage in the postseason, the Lightning selected him in the 6th round, 165th overall of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to the draft, he was ranked the 25th best North American goaltender in his draft class by the NHL Central Scouting Service in their final rankings. In the Fall, Beech made his first appearance with the Lightning at Traverse City going 0-1 and stopping just 33 of 41 in his lone appearance of the tournament. In Sudbury, with Ehelechner going pro, Beech inherited the Wolves starting job in 2005-2006 and proved to be a solid workhorse starting netminder. Beech went 33-25-1-4 with a 2.94 GAA and .906 save percentage in the regular season good for 5th in the league in wins. In the postseason Beech helped engineer Sudbury's first round upset of Kingston and went 4-5-1 with a 2.75 GAA and .913 save percentage and 2 shutouts. For his week in the Kingston series, Beech earned OHL Player of the Week honors.
Beech will play one more year of junior before facing his signing deadline in the summer of 2007.
Pros: First and foremost, Beech's size is his biggest strength. At 6'4", he covers a lot of net and gives shooters few options. The Wolves had a very good crop of defensemen this past year which helped Beech's numbers, but make no mistake, Beech was an important part of the Wolves' success. Frequently challenged by Sudbury Head Coach and ex-NHL star Mike Foligno. Beech has a mature, professional approach to the game and competes hard - something he was inconsistent with in his early OHL action. Is tough to beat when he's mentally focused on the game, keeping his approach to shooter's simple.
Cons: While the Brantford native is tall, he must continue to fill out to build up his strength and stamina. As he physically matures, he will be able to improve his lateral movement and leg speed. He has an adequate glove hand and blocker. Beech has admirable raw skills to go with his size, but must continue to put it all together while working on his consistency. He must continue to play within himself and rely on his size and positioning, also. He gets in trouble when he tries to do too much.
Future: Next season, the Wolves will be without their first round stars defenseman, Marc Staal (Rangers) and forward Benoit Pouliot (Wild). Therefore, Beech who has established himself among the top tier goaltenders in the OHL, must continue to climb that ladder for the Wolves to build on their 2006 success. He will be counted on as a team leader in 2006-2007. In terms of earning a professional contract, Beech has to show his competitive side more to keep the Lightning's attention. He could be the victim of a numbers game as currently the Lightning have four young goaltenders already signed with one year or less of North American pro experience. Plus, there's a good chance that Tampa takes a marquee goalie in the first round of the 2006 Entry Draft.
Statistics Courtesy hockeydb.com
Profile Created 5/7/06 by Pete Choquette and Chad Schnarr
Here is a summary of today's eight selections in the 2005 Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning:
With the 165th pick in the 6th round the Lightning have selected G Kevin Beech of Sudbury of the OHL. Standing at 6'4" 168 lbs Beech fits Jeff Reese's mold of big framed goaltenders. Beech moved into a tandem with touted Sharks rookie Patrick Ehelechner at midseason and was outstanding for Sudbury in the 2nd round of the OHL playoffs nearly stealing a series for his team.
Beech was 9-9-2 for Sudbury during the regular season with a .912 sv% and 2.65 GAA. In the playoffs, Beech was 2-1-0 with a .922 sv% and 2.61 GAA taking over for Ehelechner.