I recently spoke with UMass-Lowell head coach Andy Jones, who discussed his freshman defenseman and LA Kings prospect, Ben Meehan.
While he is among the slew of prospects at LA Kings Development Camp this week, I had a chance to speak about defenseman Ben Meehan prior to this week. Specifically, I spoke with Andy Jones, the associate head coach for the UMass-Lowell River Hawks, which the defenseman finished his freshman season with just a few months ago.
For the UMass-Lowell coach, though, while he knew he was getting a very good player in Meehan, he was especially impressed with how the 20-year-old earned his way into the lineup, leaving his coach with a more-than-auspicious first impression.
“Ben did really well in his freshman year,” Jones noted. “He forced his way into the lineup every night, and that was a little easier said than done last year because we’re very, very deep on defense. It was the deepest we’ve ever been. So, just for a freshman to get in all the time, he contributed [to the] power play in a lot of different offensive situations.”
As for Meehan, he wasn’t content to be idle on the ice while his more experienced teammates capitalized on the man advantage. As far as the Walpole, Mass., native was concerned, his freshman status didn’t make him less of a contributor. He was going to take control however he could to help his team win.
“I’ll give him a lot of credit for that because one of Ben’s better traits is that he likes to have the puck, and he likes to make a difference,” Jones added. “So, when the game’s on the line and the game’s tight, he doesn’t panic. He remains calm with it, and he likes those situations. So, I think he’s going to continue to grow, he’s going to be stronger, he’s going to be relied on to play a significant amount more than he did last year, and we’ll see how he does with those expectations and those additional responsibilities, and I expect him to do really well.”
If there has been any added incentive in succeeding for Meehan at UMass-Lowell, it is continuing a family legacy.
Born and raised just 40 miles south of Lowell, Meehan became familiar with River Hawks hockey thanks to his father, Scott, who played at UMass-Lowell from 1990 to 1993. The second-generation River Hawk is hoping to carry on the family tradition.
“Ben, he’s a local player for us,” Jones said. “His dad was part of our program and was eventually a captain here at UMass-Lowell, and Ben’s always wanted to wear the jersey. So, I think he takes a lot of pride and wearing the Lowell jersey, and that means a lot to us.”
While he is in El Segundo this week at the Kings’ development camp, it is unlikely that Ben Meehan will be in serious contention for a spot with the big club this season. That’s okay, though. That only means a return to UMass-Lowell, where he will continue to harness his skills and grow his game under Andy Jones’s tutelage.
“I think Ben’s going thrive with additional responsibilities and additional ice time,” the coach noted. “Ben’s a tough guy. He’s competitive, he likes competing for pucks, and he’s kind of like– he’s a little bit of a throwback player. He just goes out and competes hard all the time. We’re looking for him to improve in a few different defensive areas, and he’s got the eagerness and desire to learn, and I think he’s going to take significant steps for us.”
When the Kings drafted him in 2020, they had actually moved up 19 spots to select Meehan, who is somewhat of a more physical version of Alec Martinez. Hey, given the latter’s pedigree and his contributions to the Kings’ Stanley Cup success last decade, that is never a bad comparison. Like Meehan, Martinez was a later draft selection (4th round, 95th overall in 2007). Meehan was drafted a bit later (5th round, 140th overall), but that’s not stopping the youngster, especially when looking at how his player-of-comparison fared — and is faring — at the NHL level. Still, one step at a time.
At 6’0″, 190 pounds, Ben Meehan may not look like he’d be the most physical player on the ice, but he doesn’t let that stop him from making his presence be known. Offensively, Meehan collected very decent numbers in recent years. That includes eight assists in 17 games for UMass-Lowell last season and 18 points in 25 games for the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in 2019-20.
Overall, the Kings do have themselves a promising prospect in Ben Meehan, and in due time, we will see the 20-year-old compete for a spot with the Kings. From now until then, though, you can bet that Andy Jones will play a significant role in Meehan’s development, as he is with fellow River Hawk and Kings prospect Andre Lee.