Canadiens Beck & Davidson Working Toward Different Goals
Montreal Canadiens prospects Owen Beck and Jared Davidson are set to make their Memorial Cup debuts.
And while both Beck and Davidson will attempt to put their hands on what many describe as the most difficult trophy in hockey to win, they’ll be doing so with different long-term goals in mind.
Ready For The NHL?
Beck possesses a unique skill set.
Not only does he play a stalwart defensive style, but he’s also quite productive in the offensive zone. Once you add his ability to parse and quickly put new information into practice, not to mention his affinity for winning well over 60 percent of his faceoffs, it’s quite clear why some have suggested Beck is not too far off from making his NHL debut.
Or rather, his permanent NHL debut.
Because when it comes to Beck’s playing eligibility next season, there is no option to send him to the Laval Rocket in the AHL. He can either earn a job in the NHL or be sent back to the OHL.
And when it comes to convincing Canadiens management he’s ready to endure the marathon that is an 82-game schedule, there are very few questions left to answer.
Except, perhaps, his physical play, which, at times, has left a little to be desired during the OHL’s regular season.
It’s not that Beck shies away from physical play, but he certainly picks his spots. This allows him to maintain his excellent defensive positioning while looking for potential offensive opportunities.
But as the Peterborough Petes started to find their rhythm, something changed midway through the OHL playoffs.
Beck started throwing more hits. He started getting involved in more post-whistle scrums.
He started to bare his teeth whenever his teammates were threatened and did not hesitate to initiate physical play when the opportunity arose.
And yes, it led to a few questionable events.
Beck was thrown out of Game 2 of the OHL Championship for a hit that was deemed to have made contact with his opponent’s head, as well as a slew foot in Game 4 that led to an automatic two-game suspension.
#gohabsgo Owen Beck lands a big hit on Denver Barkey, currently being discussed by the refs for a possible 5 minute penalty pic.twitter.com/4GpiSCSRd1
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) May 14, 2023
But as we saw once the Department of Player Safety decided to differ the suspension, for better or for worse, those are the type of plays that are judged much less harshly NHL.
As long as he maintains his physical play, offensive prowess, and defensive awareness throughout the Memorial Cup, it will go a long way in convincing Kent Hughes and Co. that Beck does indeed possess the type of edge needed to thrive in professional hockey ranks.
Simply put, now that he has added a physical added to his arsenal, there are very few aspects of Beck’s game that will hold him back from earning a job in the NHL at Canadiens training camp next season.
Beck and the Petes earning a Memorial Cup berth was a surprise.
Davidson and the Seattle Thunderbirds breezing their way into the tournament was not.
They may very well be one of the best teams in Junior hockey history. To the point that they rival Nathan MacKinnon’s Halifax Mooseheads (2013) and Corey Perry’s London Knights (2005) when it comes to the number of incredibly talented players in their lineup.
And yet, despite not being the most skilled player in the lineup, you’d be hard-pressed to argue Davidson is not a key member of the organization.
He led the team in regular-season scoring and finished the WHL playoffs by scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in 19 games.
His most potent offensive weapon is his one-timer, which is certainly good enough to be considered NHL calibre.
He’s the type of player that is impossible to ignore whenever he’s on the ice. Whether he’s laying a big hit, driving the puck into the offensive zone, or knocking out his opponents in one-sided fights, Davidson has become an impact player.
The question for Davidson, who is yet to sign his entry-level contract with the Canadiens, becomes where he should play next season.
The Habs have until June 1, 2024, to offer Davidson a contract, or his rights are relinquished. He’s set to turn 21 before the start of the 2023-24 CHL season, which means he’s no longer eligible to play in the league.
He’s not quite ready to compete for a job in the NHL, but the AHL is a perfect landing point for a player of his ilk.
If the Canadiens are not intent on signing him just yet, a one-year contract with the Rocket may be in order, much like we saw when Rafael Harvey-Pinard signed with Laval in 2020.
In a sense, both prospects have already enjoyed a very fruitful season.
Winning their respective league championships is a feather in their cap that will serve as a confidence booster going forward.
But now they’re in a position that very few prospects get to enjoy. The eyes of the entire hockey world will fall upon them at the Memorial Cup.
This means there’s no better time for Beck and Davidson to make their case for a permanent place in the organization.
The Memorial Cup begins on May 26. A champion will be crowned on June 4.
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I hate that there isn’t an option for Beck to go to Laval. I understand the necessity for the rule, but it’s still frustrating when you have a prospect caught in no-man’s land. Beck is probably too good to go back to junior for another year and still develop exponentially like he has, but there’s no spots in Montreal with the number of forwards already being overcrowded. Laval would be perfect, but it’s not an option. I guess I’d send him back to junior with the goal of dominating the league and making Team Canada’s WJC and bringing home a gold medal while playing a key role on the team. I felt having Mesar go back to junior and not play in Laval was a mistake last season, but since the AHL isn’t even an option for Beck, we don’t have much of a choice in reality. As we all saw with Slafkovsky last year, toiling away with minimal minutes in the NHL does almost nothing for a prospect’s development. So, I guess it’s back to Peterborough for Beck. If that’s the case, you wonder if Mississauga will kick themselves for trading him away? 😁
I think I agree wit this. Makes me wonder if an arrangement to send him overseas for a season would be helpful. KInda tough after a great run with his junior team but the big ice might be a kickstart to his offensive output and challenge him in good ways. He’s a smart kid and might like an opportu8nity to play in Europe. So long as he has a team that will play him when he isn’t coming back for a second season. I know this is something that just isn’t done, but I don’t see why not.
Like you said, it rarely happens, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. I don’t think it would probably be a great idea anyway. We’d want him closer to home to keep track of him and having him develop on a bigger ice surface would be counterproductive.
We must make room for the youngsters! They’re our future. There’s no use in holding onto Dvorak anymore with Beck coming up. No need for Hoffman when Slafkovsky will be better than him. Give the youngster time on ice!