Like so many first-year eligible players coming out of Ontario, Owen Beck doesn’t have much of a track record. The 68 games he played this season were the first 68 games he played in the Ontario Hockey League, thanks to the pandemic eliminating what would have been his rookie year.
Birthplace: Port Hope, Ontario
Date of birth: February 3, 2004
Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: Mississauga IceDogs (OHL)
Luckily for Beck, one of his strengths is his consistency, and he used that this season to push himself into the first-round conversation for the 2022 NHL Draft.
After not playing in 2020-21, Beck made his OHL debut with Mississauga and put up 21 goals and 30 assists in 68 games. He added a goal and five assists in 10 playoff games. This came after he was a point-per-game player at the U15 and U16 levels.
Beck was a second-round pick, 29th overall, in the 2020 OHL Draft.
When you look at the numbers, Beck is a player who drives play. Although his scoring numbers are not the highest, he gets high marks for his passing, his zone entries, and his puck retrievals. In short, he does the things that help you win hockey games.
Ideally, you would probably like his production to be higher, but that’s why he’s being talked about at the tail end of the first round rather than the high end. He’s earned his reputation as a solid two-way player who is great defensively.
His transition game runs through his above average skating. His speed helps him attack defenders and either have them have to give him room, or he just shows an ability to skate past them.
He’s incredibly smart. Scouts rave about his hockey sense and it is the main reason he is being talked about as a potential first-round pick. His smarts don’t only apply to the ice as he was also the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year.
Defensively, he is always looking for the right play, and his relentlessness allows him to force a ton of turnovers which plays right into his great transition game. He’s also pretty physical and doesn’t shy away from using his body to make plays. He’s not going to crush guys in open ice, but he’s going to try and take the puck from you.
He also doesn’t cheat to create offence. When he’s in the defensive zone, he’s focused on stopping the other team, but when he creates that turnover, or his team gets possession, he makes himself available for the outlet pass and more likely than not enters the opposing zone with control.
One of the most intriguing parts of his game is in the faceoff circle. Beck won 817 (60.6%) of his 1348 faceoffs this season in the OHL, well ahead of anyone else who took at least 500 faceoffs in the league. In fact, to find someone who won a higher percentage of their faceoffs you have to go to Tye Kartye who won 62.3 of his 453 faceoffs, almost 1000 fewer than Beck.
When you consider he was a rookie in the league, and may not have had the knowledge of the players he was going up against, that makes it even more impressive. Only five players took more faceoffs than Beck in the regular season.
Despite not being the most offensively-gifted player, Beck does have quite a good shot. He can get it off quickly, and accurately. He likely won’t be winning any goal scoring titles, but it can be a weapon for him.
His playmaking can be seen as a weakness. He hasn’t shown the skill to make plays on a consistent basis, which is fine because he does everything else so well. He loves to make give and go plays with teammates, and so it may be something that improves as he plays with better teammates and develops chemistry with them.
Elite Prospects: #21
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #39*
NHL Central Scouting: #10 (North American Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #28
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #46
Draft Prospect Hockey: #36
Hockey Prospect: #39*
Craig Button: #46*
* = not final ranking
The biggest knock on Beck when it comes to his lower rankings is simply his production and his offensive upside. How you view his offensive potential can basically be the difference between a ceiling of a second-line centre or a shut-down bottom-six one and it is the one characteristic that depends where people have him ranked.
If this sounds a little like Shane Wright, you may be on to something. The offensive skill, production, and upside in Beck is nowhere near Wright’s but, again, that’s why we’re talking about him as a potential first-round pick rather than the potential first overall pick. If you scale down the projection significantly, you have a pretty similar outlook. A high-floor player who does many things right and will likely help a really good team in the future.
Elite Prospects compares his game to Anthony Cirelli, and that’s a pretty good fit because, well, there’s a good chance that he’s a player that will be taken late in the first round, and in a few years everyone is watching the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final wondering how in the world the other 30 or 31 teams let them get away with it again. And, yes, Tampa Bay does have their 2022 first-round pick.
In all seriousness, he’s the perfect example of how good teams drafting at the tail end of the first-round can churn out really good players. Teams picking higher in the draft may be scared off by the offensive upside (or more intrigued by the upside of others), but there’s a ton of value in players like Beck.
He’s absolutely a viable candidate in the second half of the first-round, and if he doesn’t get picked there, there’s a chance he may just be the player teams are calling the Montreal Canadiens for at the start of the draft’s second day.