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Top-15 CH prospects | 5th position: Owen Beck
Credit: Beck at development camp in 2023.

So far we’ve analyzed all these brave young people in this countdown:

Introductions, promotions and honorable mentions
Positions 15 to 13 (Farrell, Mesar, Heineman) and a wild card (Lias Andersson)
Positions 12 to 10 (Fowler, Mailloux, Xhekaj)
Positions 9 and 8 (Engstrom and Barron)
7th position: Joshua Roy
6th position: Alex Newhook

So we’re down to the top-5!

We don’t want to take anything away from the young players we’ve ranked so far – in fact, many of them might surprise you – but it’s pretty clear and simple that the 5 prospects we have left to consider are the ones most likely to take the Tricolore to the next level.

Whether we’re talking about Slafkovsky, Hutson, Reinbacher, Guhle or Beck (not necessarily in order!), all five bring very important qualities and ingredients that are currently missing or “developing” within the big club.

Slafkovsky, of course, is a rather unique combination of talent, speed and strength in a giant wing format.

Hutson is the offensive dynamo on defense, the puck controller, the quarterback, the fourth forward every time he takes the ice.

Reinbacher is the complete 24-25 minute defenseman who can do it all, and the one who should allow Hutson to do his thing.

Guhle is the front-line soldier, the warrior with a valiant heart, the rugged playoff defenseman who will make life miserable for opposing forwards.

And finally, we begin today’s top-5 with Owen Beck, possibly the best defensive center drafted by the CH in ages.

Owen Beck, C
Potential: 34/40
Insurance: 16 /20
Use value: 24.5/30
Exchange value: 8/10
Total: 82.5/100

To answer the question at the end of my last text, no, Owen Beck doesn’t stand out that much from Alex Newhook and Joshua Roy in my analysis, at least not in terms of his overall score out of 100.

His potential, or if you prefer, his famous “ceiling” is even a little lower than that of the other two.

But I give him better marks in the other three categories and, in the end, I simply consider Beck, as the only true center in this top-15 (believe it or not!), to be a young man destined to play a more important role in the team’s future success than Roy and Newhook.

Especially if you take into account the rather unique qualities he displays at his position for a 19-year-old player.

It’s no coincidence that Peterborough went to the Memorial Cup after acquiring him. Beck was entrusted with the most perilous missions as soon as he arrived with the Petes. He was his coach’s most trusted man.

Although we’d have liked to see him score more points (he did record 82 points in 83 total games last year, playoffs included) and, more superficially, have a slightly better differential (especially in the playoffs with a frigid -5), Beck plays the proverbial “right way”. He never cheats and always puts the team first.

A junior pro.


In the introduction, Beck was described as the best “defensive” center drafted by the Tricolore in ages.

When was that moon, you ask?

Probably in the summer of 2001, when, in the3rd round at 71st overall, the scouts of the time chose a certain Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec would go on to enjoy a “short” career of 608 points, +65 in 1001 regular games, not to mention – much to the chagrin of his detractors – 53 points in 94 playoff games, all while covering opposing top players…

I don’t think Beck is called upon to play as “offensive” a role as, by default, Pleky had to play in Montreal – we didn’t have anything better than him for too many years – but in a club now stronger at center, we could very well imagine Beck enjoying a career proportionally comparable to that of the Czech.

The qualities are there and they’re more or less the same.

When you watch Owen Beck play, you quickly see many of the attributes of a future great NHL center: dominant in the face-off circle, above-average skater, excellent positioning and constantly on the move and close to the puck.

Keen observers will also have noticed that the Ontarian even has a much better shot than the man in the legendary turtleneck

Now, Beck doesn’t have all the offensive finesse and patience of a Patrice Bergeron or a Nick Suzuki. He’s not a “double threat” every time he’s in the pay zone, but he’s still dangerous and can surprise opposing goalies and defenses with his shooting and passing skills.

He’s also known for his intensity, which he’ll have to learn to contain at times.

Although he didn’t look good in this sequence, which ended a difficult and undoubtedly frustrating game in which he had been on the ice for four goals for the London Knights in the OHL final, as a rule of thumb, after the trade that took him to the Peterborough Petes, Beck was used in all phases of the game and to excess in defensive duties. This was even more evident during the playoffs and the Memorial Cup, where he seemed to take all his team’s important face-offs.

His face-off average in the playoffs?

64,9 %!

For the record, he had to make do with a “meagre” 58.6% in the regular season…

In short, the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 auction has so far disappointed no one since his selection.

After signing an entry-level contract with the Tricolore following his first training camp, he even earned an emergency recall with the big club last winter, when team management preferred him to Joshua Roy.

Considering all this, it’s hard not to see Beck as the archetypal ideal third-trio center for a top club, also capable of playing higher up the lineup when needed and, above all, lightening the defensive load of his more offensively creative teammates.

In short, Beck is the kind of center a team needs to climb the standings and do damage in the playoffs.

That’s why he’s in the top-5 of this countdown. That’s how important he is.

And, in my eyes, in a more defensive role, he clearly has the edge over Oliver Kapanen


It’s Beck’s mature play, leadership qualities and intelligence that give us the most confidence that he’ll succeed in the NHL. Even before he was drafted, Beck was trying to model his game on the likes of Patrice Bergeron, and he’s only gotten better and more trusted since.

But, in addition to the tactical aspect, Beck also knows that the physical aspect is important in the NHL, and after another summer of training, he’s now swinging the scales at 197 lbs. At 5’11, that’s pretty much the ideal weight for combining strength and speed.

In addition to his recall to Montreal, Beck, then aged just 18, had also previously been called up as Canada’s backup at the WJC to replace Kirby Dach’s injured brother Colton.

Add to this the confident and reassuring words of Development Director Rob Ramage about him, and it’s hard to see how Beck – a model student – could miss out in the pros.

He’s a coach’s dream. He’s a very, very conscientious leader. You know this guy is going to play. – Rob Ramage

If it weren’t for asymmetrical rules for junior-aged players, Beck’s development might be best served in the AHL this year. But short of that famous ideal world, a final year in junior would be an excellent option for him to fine-tune his offensive game, particularly learning to become a little more patient and creative in possession of the puck.

We should also see him in a prominent role with Junior Team Canada over the holiday season.

Value in use

Beck is an integral part of the Tricolore’s medium- and long-term plans.

Without saying that the third-center position is reserved for him, let’s just say that internally, we’d probably be disappointed if he couldn’t occupy it with brio soon enough, i.e. by the time the CH becomes very competitive again, hypothetically in 2025-2026. This would make him a great economic option for the CH in an important role, and allow Hughes and Gorton to spend their money elsewhere to fill needs in other positions.

After his very convincing camp last year, we shouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of seeing him start the season with the Tricolore for a nine-game trial, especially if we take for granted that Christian Dvorak won’t be back from injury yet and that Evans is prone to minor and major injuries.

All in all, it’s a role similar to Guy Carbonneau’s back in the day, or the one we’d have dreamed of for Phillip Danault, a little further down the lineup, that awaits him the day Beck is ready.

He’ll free up Suzuki and Dach for big defensive face-offs, and more often than not his club should come away with the puck.

Do you think we’re exaggerating about Beck?

Then consider this.

Before Ovechkin, Stamkos, Crosby, McDavid and company were the NHL’s top scorers, they were all top scorers in junior hockey.

By the same logic, why couldn’t Beck, an excellent student of the game and outrageously dominant at the circle in the OHL, become one of the all-time best in this phase of the game and one of the best defensive centers of his generation?

Imagine the usefulness of such a player, whom some already consider superior to Shane Wright! From what we’ve all seen of the two players, I’ve heard crazier ideas…

Exchange value

That said, even if we think the Ontarian could have a very bright future with the Habs, and we don’t think the team would be too keen on trading him, Hughes could take advantage of Beck’s excellent reputation to include him in a deal to acquire an impact player, preferably a dominant left-handed center.

In this regard, who knows if Beck’s name hasn’t already surfaced in discussions surrounding Pierre-Luc Dubois?

Has Beck already been proposed as part of a package for PLD?
(Credit: Capture d’écran/Twitter)

If that’s the case, it’s understandable that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff preferred the Kings’ offer. For one, Vilardi, the key player in the deal, represents a more seasoned center with greater offensive potential than Beck.

But should a similar transaction arise in the next few years, a slightly more experienced Beck would represent a fine ace up Hughes’ sleeve.

Should Beck’s progression curve steepen and he have a breakout year in the OHL and at the CMJ, his value – already good – could increase substantially.

Of course, as we’ve seen, his utility/rarity (use value) for the CH is very interesting in our eyes (24.5/30), worthy of the team’s future best defensive center and best man to take crucial face-offs.

No problem keeping him in Montreal!

But, considering his offensive talent, which he may never be able to fully exploit in Montreal behind Suzuki and Dach, could histrade value be even greater and help the CH reach a higher level within a reasonable timeframe via a transaction?

For that to happen, the return would really have to be worthwhile… and, ideally, Oliver Kapanen would have to be able to provide him with some relief for the more defensive missions.


Owen Beck’s usefulness and rarity could play a very important role in the CH’s plans, whether on the ice at the Bell Centre or, who knows, in terms of what he could bring in by way of a transaction. In fact, he’s the first player to be rated 8 out of 10 in terms of trade value.

But above all, it’s perhaps with Beck that we really begin to grasp the meaning I try to give year after year to this countdown of the most important prospects, where positions are allocated not essentially on the basis of the potential of the players we believe to be the “best”, the most talented, but more on their future usefulness, the probabilities they have of playing a big role in the team’s plans, for whom the Stanley Cup must remain the ultimate goal.

With that in mind, “Lindsay ” “Beck” is likely to be the name we’ll see most often on the back of the jersey of whoever takes the CH’s next crucial face-offs in the playoffs.

That’s it! We’ll dive a little deeper into the top-5 next week with the fourth position!

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