2014 NHL Draft: Blackhawks’ draftee Starrett to develop in the USHL, NCAA

By Richard Murray

2014 NHL Draft - Beau Starrett - Chicago Blackhawks

Photo: The Chicago Blackhawks used a third round pick at the 2014 NHL Draft to select potential power forward Beau Starrett, who will be playing the 2014-15 season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL (courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

After three years of playing high school hockey in Massachusetts, Beau Starrett put his name on the map with the South Shore Kings in the USPHL this season.

“[Starrett’s] a big guy, he can skate and has skills offensively”, said Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. “When you have that size, can move around the ice, you have a really good chance in today’s game.”

Following his career at Catholic Memorial, which included a Super Eight Tournament appearance with the Knights, Starrett produced right away at the junior level. The Blackhawks selected Starrett in the third round, 88th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.

“This is something that you dream of and work for your whole life,” he said.  “Making the jump to the junior route was big for me. [Being drafted] means a lot.”

The Bellingham, MA native was a near point-per-game player with the Kings last season. Starrett will look to build upon a 47-point [11 goals, 36 assists] season next year in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The Cornell University commit is expected to join the Big Red in 2015, which gives Starrett even more time to fill out his 6’4” frame. The Blackhawks drafted seven collegiate bound players, and a big reason is that they like the extended time players have to grow at the NCAA level.

“When you’re a young player like [Starrett], growing into your body, you need to work on your overall strength,” Bowman said. “He certainly has the height, but he has to round out and physically develop a little bit. That happens in time, though. We like his overall skill set.”

“[With NCAA players], they have four or five years and some of them don’t even go to college right away,” Bowman said about the development process of college players. “It’s tougher when you have a two-year window to sign a guy, when you pick them later in the draft. Sometimes they don’t define themselves by that second year and you have to make a decision to sign them.”

Bowman also mentioned that you don’t have to leave a player in college for all four years, so Starrett gives the Blackhawks a few different options if he’s ready sooner.

Starrett is a big power forward, but he still has to develop into his body. Cornell could be the perfect match for him as he continues to grow. The Big Red is well known for developing power forwards. Currently, Cornell features 12 different forwards that are six feet or taller.

“I can’t get wait to get started at Cornell,” Starrett said.  “They play a defensive system, and if you look at the roster it’s all big bodies. They recruit highly in big forwards, so I like that. I fit the system and hope to do well there.”

There isn’t an NHL timeline for Starrett because he is taking it one day at a time. For a player like him, his main concentration is developing and growing into his body over the next of couple seasons.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint, for someone like me going to college,” he said. “ I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, but for now I need to get bigger, faster and stronger to make that jump to the next level.”

Although Starrett is taking a different route to the NHL, he has similarities with former South Shore King and Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle. Like Starrett, Coyle gave up his final year of high school hockey to play for the Kings and has not looked back.

Coyle only played  a half-season of college hockey before going to play in the QMJHL, but that is unlikely to happen in Starrett’s case as he is going the Ivy League route for an education.

“Charlie set the bar high for the [Kings] program,” Starrett said. “He was definitely a big part of my jump because he also gave up his last [year of] high school hockey. I would like to follow in his footsteps [to the NHL].”

Starrett and his three brothers all played for coach Bill Hanson at Catholic Memorial. Playing in the Super Eight Tournament was something that he and his family cherished.

“That is what you play for when you’re playing in Massachusetts,” Starrett said. “The fans, [media coverage] from the Boston Herald and Boston Globe make for [an amazing atmosphere]. The Super Eight is a big thing to play in and all my brothers played in it. We looked forward to it in our family playing high school hockey.”

Starrett may be several seasons away from the NHL, but with time to develop at Cornell, one has to like his chances of eventually forging an NHL career.

Follow Rich Murray on Twitter via @Richie_Murray