Montreal Canadiens prospect Owen Beck has enjoyed a significant uptick in scoring since joining his new team, the Saginaw Spirit.
And while this may come as a shock to some, especially when we consider Beck’s scoring rate with the Peterborough Petes, it was relatively easy to anticipate.
We have discussed the importance of context on several occasions, as recently as last week.
“Many have doubted Beck’s offensive prowess, but the well-rounded centre has shown time and again that he can produce whenever he’s put in a situation that’s conducive to scoring.”
While playing for the Mississauga Steelheads, Beck produced over 1.35 points per game, but following the trade to the Peterborough Petes last season, his scoring rate dropped to just 0.83 points per game. Those who watched him play for the Petes know it wasn’t a matter of Beck suddenly forgetting how to score, but rather, he was primarily tasked with being a shutdown centre.
In other words, he was not in a situation that was conducive to scoring.
This season, Beck’s scoring rate with the Petes improved to 1.2 points per game, an encouraging change, but still far from what you’d expect when discussing a 19-year-old drafted centre with an NHL contract.
However, since moving to the Spirit, his numbers have once again improved by leaps and bounds.
Josh Bloom sends across his third assist to Owen Beck, who dropped a six point night.
— Dave Hall (@hall1289) January 11, 2024
In three games with Saginaw, Beck has scored three goals and six assists, pushing his production to three points per game. No one expects him to maintain such an elevated production rate, but it’s a perfect time to discuss the importance of usage when evaluating prospects.
One of my favourite prospect analysts, David St-Louis, drove the point home on Saturday night. Context will almost always be the most important factor when discussing a prospect’s results.
Now that Beck is playing on a strong roster with proper support, he’s able to focus on scoring, whereas, in previous lineups, his responsibilities skewed more toward defensive play.
I keep repeating this, but we underestimate how much context (teams, lines, systems…) influence production even in junior hockey. Yes, truly elite prospects score wherever, but the vast majority of even top players need the right support. https://t.co/DSs59ZSS7v
— David St-Louis (@DavidSt_Louis) January 14, 2024
Montreal Canadiens Prospects Moving Forward
The lesson is important to remember when discussing certain NHL players, like Jonathan Drouin, and key prospects who are currently developing in less-than-ideal situations, such as David Reinbacher.
Drouin, who has 10 goals and 14 assists for the Colorado Avalanche this season, did not suddenly forget how to score while he played in Montreal. But now that he’s playing with more talented linemates he has had the opportunity to take more shots, and consequently, has found the back of the net more often this season than he did in his last three seasons with the Canadiens.
With that in mind, we have to be careful when discussing Reinbacher’s play with Kloten.
The team is a mess, as evidenced by their mid-season firing of the coaching staff. Unfortunately for Reinbacher, the new coaching staff could not overcome the lack of talent in the lineup, and things have progressively gotten worse.
Quick update on David Reinbacher.
We waited but the coaching change did not solve anything collectively. Kloten really on a path to play for relegation at that point.
1 win in their last 10.
6 goals scored in their last 5 games. Hard to get points when no one is scoring.
— Thibaud Chatel (@Thibaud_Chatel) January 9, 2024
Therefore, it’s important to remember that despite the lack of production from Reinbacher, which is concerning, it’s also unrealistic to expect him to thrive in a terrible situation. The goal is not to excuse his lack of points or slow start this season, but rather, to explain why the results have not improved.
A lot like Juraj Slafkovsky last season.
He was given the least ice time of any regularly used player, which certainly did not help him find his rhythm. Now that he’s playing more minutes with better linemates, his confidence has surged, and the production has started to improve.
Once the Montreal Canadiens remove Reinbacher from the unfortunate situation in Switzerland, things could, and should get better, based on improved usage. Expect them to assign him to the Laval Rocket the moment his season is over.
In this era of single-chart analysis, it’s incredibly important to remember context will always be key when evaluating hockey players, and even more so when discussing top prospects.