15th ranked U24 Habs player - Owen Beck

Owen Beck continues to sharpen his offensive tools, adding to a very mature defensive game.
Saginaw Spirit v Ottawa 67's
Saginaw Spirit v Ottawa 67's / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

For the month of May, aside from the NHL Draft lottery, there isn’t much going on. So here at A Winning Habit, I’ve decided to rank the 24 best Canadiens under 24 years old. I opted to rank players that are closest to the NHL, so aside from David Reinbacher, there are no 2023 Draftees. 

So, without further ado, let’s go ahead with the 15th best player, in my opinion, Owen Beck.

Owen Beck's 2023-24 season started strong with the Peterborough Petes, and the Port Hope, Ontario. native posted above point per game numbers. With 30 points through 25 Ontario Hockey League regular season games, Beck was developing nicely. But when he was dealt to the Memorial Cup host Saginaw Spirit at the OHL trade deadline, he truly exploded, scoring 51 points through his next 32 games. Beck also added 14 points in 17 playoff games, but the London Knights knocked the Spirit out of the OHL postseason.

Of all the forwards in the Canadiens system, who haven't played consistent pro hockey minutes, Beck, in my eyes, is one of the top dogs. Kapanen's potential might be higher and he may be further along in his development, based on where he has played. But I think Beck has immense potential to be a good two-way centre for the Canadiens.

Beck's first year of professional hockey will reveal a lot about his growth, which we got a glimpse of last year in his lone NHL game. He has proven very adept in the faceoff dot, being recognized as one of the OHL's best and the best in that category at the 2023-24 U20 World Junior Championships. I don't expect that he will ever be a dynamic forward, nor a big-time point producer, but he will be a glue player, who Martin St. Louis will rely on during shorthanded situations and in the playoffs.

The best route for Beck is to play a full year in the American Hockey League with the Laval Rocket in 2024-25, then give him a shot the following year. Ultimately the decision will largely depend on how he performs during training camp and through the Canadiens preseason games. But as optimistic as I am about Beck, I think if the Habs have time to let him develop, then that would be wise.

Based on the Canadiens' centre depth in the NHL, there will be four natural centres - Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans. What's more, Kent Hughes appears adamant about beefing up the offence, so adding another centre isn't out of the question. Certainly, the goal is to integrate youth into the lineup, but not at the expense of rushing a player's development.

Beck might move up this list by this time next year if he develops the way I expect that he will. There is also the fact that Suzuki will age out as of this coming August. Unless Montreal drafts a big centre like Cayden Lindstrom, Beck may ascend into the top 10 untouched by anybody.