Fresh off an entry-level contract that was awarded following a great showing at the Montreal Canadiens training camp, prospect Owen Beck wanted to push the limits of his potential during his second season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL.
Beck was motivated by the harsh criticism regarding his offensive play, which, to be fair, trailed off toward the end of his Draft season.
Seeing as he missed an entire year of development due to the pandemic, it’s easy to understand why a player like Beck, who was 17 years old throughout the majority of the 2020-21 season, would struggle to find consistency in the last stretch of the schedule.
But there is no room for excuses when it comes to earning a coveted job in the NHL, and therefore Beck, who was tagged as a first-round talent by many outlets, fell to the second round, where the Canadiens quickly snatched him up.
“I want to put up a few more points, just to solidify that offensive upside I know I have,” said Beck in November. “I want to prove it to a lot of people who have doubted me.”
Beck didn’t just end up putting up a few more points, he’s in the process of obliterating his Draft year scoring pace.
He ended up with 21 goals and 31 assists in 68 games for the Steelheads last season, whereas this year he’s on pace for a 36-goal, 49-assist season in just 64 games.
And while he’s enjoying a fantastic Draft+1 season, Beck also set his sights on playing for Team Canada at the 2023 World Junior Championship, a loft goal for several reasons.
The Canadiens prospect had yet to represent Canada in any shape or form on the international scene, and Hockey Canada is well known for giving priority to their legacy players.
Canada had a very strong group of prospects to choose from this year, including generational talent Connor Bedard, which meant that even some returning players, such as Canadiens prospect Riley Kidney, were among the last round of cuts for the national team.
And finally, at just 18 years old, Beck’s age was working against him, seeing as Hockey Canada rarely sends non-legacy 18-year-olds to the tournament.
Beck joined Kidney among the last players cut from the team, a disappointing yet understandable decision that motivated the second-round pick to earn six points in his first two games in the OHL following the decision to leave him off Canada’s roster.
Reminder that Owen Beck has 6 points in 2 games since being cut from Canada’s WJC team 👀 pic.twitter.com/K9y99536Hq
— Lauren Kelly (@laurkelly24) December 17, 2022
But as Beck pointed out in November, getting cut from the lineup wouldn’t just be a disappointment, it would represent a roadblock to a goal he set earlier in the season, a roadblock that he was powerless to move.
“I also want to play for Team Canada, that would be a huge honour,” he said. “Winning a gold medal would be a dream come true.”
An unfortunate injury to Blackhawks prospect Colton Dach has allowed Beck an opportunity to prove his worth with Team Canada during the medal round, and though he is not guaranteed to receive ice time seeing as he’s the last player to join the team, Beck’s skillset has the potential to vault him up the lineup if any of his teammates falter.
He tends to shine on the ice, to the point that he’s made a habit of proving naysayers wrong and excelling when the game is on the line.
Whether it’s his stalwart defensive awareness, his excellent faceoff efficiency, his neutral zone vision, or offensive prowess, Beck can make an impact in all three zones, which tends to quickly establish an impressive level of trust with the coaching staff.
He may not be starting the tournament on the top line, but now that the Canadiens prospect has arrived in Halifax, it would be unwise to bet against him.