The Montreal Canadiens selected 11 players at the 2022 NHL Draft, and Owen Beck is perhaps the most underrated pick out of all of them.
The Montreal Canadiens were looking to acquire players with strong growth potential, capable of continuing to add to their game and showing an ability to adapt in key situations. Well, you just described Owen Beck in a nutshell.
Prior to the NHL Draft, Montreal Hockey Now spoke with Mississauga Steelheads head coach, James Richmond, about Beck’s game and how he improved throughout the season. Coach Richmond talked at length about Beck’s ability to improve and how his all-around game took off throughout the season due to subtle tweaks they made to his game.
“He’s a player that continued to improve as the season went on, especially toward the end,” said coach Richmond on Beck’s progress in his rookie season. “It’s been pretty special to watch, not just his offence, but his overall game.”
Beck was the best player in the faceoff circle in the OHL, despite being a rookie. It allowed him to secure the puck and simplify his club’s transition from defence to offence, but winning faceoffs weren’t enough, Beck needed to be more involved in the breakout to find success at the next levels. Richmond pointed to the attention to detail and willingness to learn of his young centerman as the reasons behind his growth at a very pivotal position and how he was able to adapt his game.
“He’s a curious mind always looking to improve. He does a ton of video with us, asks a ton of questions, and spends that extra time in the gym,” said coach Richmond. “He does all the right things on the ice and off the ice, and he’s really bought into how we see centermen playing at the next level.”
It wasn’t always easy for Beck to change the habits in his game that he had acquired throughout his time in minor hockey. Coach Richmond spoke about how they helped Beck better tailor his game for success at the pro level, but tweaking his positioning in the defensive zone.
“He was a player at the lower levels that was tasked with doing it all himself, but he learned at the OHL level how to use his teammates more to generate offence,” said coach Richmond on Beck’s transition to OHL play. “He really started to produce his offence out of the defensive zone a lot more as the season went on; he plays lower than most centers and works hard to get the puck and start the transition the other way. We call it Low-Slow-And-Go! You want to be low and slow; always want to be low to receive the puck and then go. Those are analytical things we showed them that help him produce more offence, both at the OHL and eventually at the NHL level.”
When asked who he liked to model his game after, Beck pointed to guys like Phil Danault or Bo Horvat, and that’s exactly the type of tweaks that made their games so effective at the NHL level. By playing lower in the offensive zone, it helped a player like Danault to excel in almost even the advanced stats category, but it also helped him generate more offence on a regular basis. Beck is already ahead of the curve in being able to apply a more well-rounded and looks to be one of those draft picks that could pay big dividends down the line for the Montreal Canadiens.