MONTREAL — With the Prospect Challenge tournament over, several Montreal Canadiens prospects will look to build upon the momentum they created in Buffalo.
While all eyes were on first-round picks Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar, it was Mississauga Steelheads forward Owen Beck that made the most of his opportunity. The buzz surrounding Beck at the LECOM Harborcenter focused mostly on his scoring prowess, however, it was his stalwart defensive game and cerebral approach that led to the vast majority of the aforementioned offence.
Two Turntables and a Microphone
To be perfectly frank, Beck wasn’t just the best forward on the ice last weekend, he was one of the best defencemen as well.
Look at Owen Beck, yet again on the back check. This time picking a pass out of mid-air.
This kid is always in the right place, always making the right play. pic.twitter.com/wOHujxyeEb
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 16, 2022
As an 18-year-old, Beck will be heading back to Mississauga this season, a season which Montreal Canadiens management will surely monitor closely. Keep in mind, Beck missed the entirety of his 2020-21 season when COVID shut the OHL down, which means, despite his incredibly impressive performance in Buffalo, he’s still very raw in the experience department.
His lack of mileage in the OHL also explains why Beck saw a downtick in results towards the end of the year. You could argue that a slight downtick was the reason the Canadiens were able to get their hands on the intelligent centre early in the second round.
Owen Beck had nowhere to go with this puck, two guys all over him, and somehow turns it into a scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/GQLKcCqR8p
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
Given that this will be his first true season, one that isn’t coming off a cancelled campaign, it will be interesting to see just how far Beck can push his prospect stock even further within the organization.
On the flip side of the coin, Cédrick Guidon had a very forgettable tournament, though a quick look at his linemates justifies a rather quiet performance.
Now, I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for Guidon, because, like me, he sports the trillium as a proud Franco Ontarian, but beyond our similar heritage, it’s impossible to ignore his underlying numbers last season.
Expecting a breakout season from Cedrick Guindon (MTL) and the Owen Sound Attack. Strong team-wide results.
Guindon can rip it, excels at getting open in the slot, and connects tons of small-area transition passes to create advantages up the ice. pic.twitter.com/4uoi61ZbCA
— Mitchell Brown (@MitchLBrown) September 19, 2022
Much like Beck, Guindon will enter the next OHL season knowing what he’s facing, rather than learning on the job, which should lead to an even more impressive season with the Owen Sound Attack.
Before we shift to the defensive zone, we should touch upon Mesar’s upcoming season. There have been rumours he’s headed to the Kitchener Rangers, which may be a perfect fit in terms of his developmental needs, however, there’s also a possibility Mesar may be heading back to Europe to expand upon his professional hockey experience. If Mesar lands in Kitchener, he will have a great opportunity to display his talent while also working on his strength, one of the few glaring issues in his game.
Blue Line Potential
On the defensive side of things, William Trudeau will be one of the most interesting Montreal Canadiens prospects this season, and not only because he projects as the type of defenceman that should be able to translate his skill to the professional level.
It will be his fourth season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and given his wealth of experience, there’s a significant chance he outclasses most defencemen in the league. He’s got the size, the skill and the drive to make a mark.
Trudeau finished tied for 13th in scoring last season among all QMJHL defencemen. Don’t be surprised if he makes his way into the top 5 this year.
One of Trudeau’s most common defensive partners at the Prospect Challenge was fellow QMJHL standout, Miguel Tourigny. And though he’s likely headed to the AHL to play with the Laval Rocket, he could end up playing an overage season with Acadie-Bathurst. If that’s the case, look for him to improve upon his already impressive scoring rate, which led to him being the second-highest scorer among QMJHL defencemen in 2021-22.