When the Montreal Canadiens took Owen Beck with the first pick on the second day of the 2022 NHL Draft, it was the start of a day that set the tone for their 2022 Draft. After taking Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar in the first round, Beck topped their board with the 33rd pick.
It’s easy to see what they saw in Beck. After the pandemic eliminated what would have been his rookie year in the Ontario Hockey League, he hit the ground running when he finally had the opportunity.
His 51 points in 68 regular season games was good for third in team scoring, and he followed that up with six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 playoff games. Considering that prior to the OHL season, his highest level of hockey was at the U16 level, it showed tremendous growth and a glimpse into his potential.
What makes Beck an intriguing prospect is how he supplements his scoring numbers. He led the entire OHL in faceoffs, and is known for his ability to play in all facets of the game.
The voting range for Beck is pretty tight, with a high vote of #8 and a low vote of #20. The community vote had him right in the top 15, and seven of the 12 votes had him at 14 or higher.
It is a vote of confidence in Beck a few months after he was drafted, but one that sees him behind one player that was drafted behind him in Lane Hutson.
History of #14
Make no mistake about it, Beck’s strengths help teams win hockey games. If you look at the below chart from Mitch Brown’s tracking project, you see a player who is one of the best prospects in terms of controlled zone entries, and he also is successful in exiting the zone with control. He encompasses the 200-foot player that teams are looking for.
When you combine that with his ability in the faceoff circle, plus underlying numbers that show that he may have even more offensive potential than his stat line shows, you know you have a pretty solid prospect on your hands.
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. 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.
His abilities on the ice are complemented by a great hockey sense. He simply makes the right plays more often than not. His great transition play is not due to cheating. He’s a responsible player that loves to get his teammates involved.
Off the ice, he was the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, and his ability to manage his time between studying and hockey is proof of his solid work ethic.
You may read the first part of this article and wonder how Beck wasn’t a first-round pick. The answer to that would be, some pre-draft rankings did have him in the draft’s first round. The ones that didn’t simply questioned his offensive upside. If you think that his first OHL season is just the tip of the iceberg, then you see Beck as a future top-six centre.
If you don’t see that side of his game developing, then you have to lower that projection to a bottom-six shutdown centre.
The fact is, Beck’s offensive game has question marks. He has a solid shot, but not one that would make you jump out of your seat. His playmaking is inconsistent, even though Mitch Brown’s tracking had him near the top in terms of creating chances off of his passing.
Beck screams future NHL regular. There’s not one part of his game that should keep him from making the top league. The only question by many who look at his game is simply how big his impact will be at the next level.
His offensive numbers don’t have the impact that you would see from a player who ends up being a top-six player at the NHL level. How he responds to his second OHL season will determine what his upside can be.
It is possible that he puts himself on the radar for Canada’s World Junior team for the 2023 World Juniors in December. He was invited to the team’s summer camp, and as a 2004-born player, will have two chances to play for Canada at the tournament.
The floor for Beck is very high. The things he does in the defensive zone both away from the puck and with the puck in transition are big positives from his game, and provide a base for his game regardless of his offensive production.
What makes Beck an intriguing prospect is that his offensive game does have upside that doesn’t make it out of the question that you see an improvement in that area of his game. There is definitely some skill there, and it wouldn’t be completely surprising to see his production take a significant leap forward this season in the OHL.
There’s a ton to like about Beck as a prospect, but where he goes in this ranking going forward will likely be determined by whether the upside in his offensive game shows up, and how consistent it is.