Canadiens: Final Thoughts on Owen Beck and Team Canada's World Juniors

Owen Beck Played a Key Role for Canada at The World Juniors, A Potential Glimpse Into The Future

Canada saw a disappointing end to an uninspiring tournament following their 3-2 loss to the Czechs in the quarterfinals. Fortunately for Owen Beck, he won’t end his World Juniors career empty-handed, winning Gold in Halifax last year. Still, this is not how Canada wanted to go out at this tournament, failing to medal for the first time since the 2019 tournament. But here we are.

So, how did Beck and Team Canada really do? Do the results tell the whole story, or is Team Canada a victim of a one-game win or go-home format? And what about Beck? How did his performance stack up compared to the expectations. Did he do enough for Team Canada? And what can we learn about him from this admittedly short sample size? Let’s break it all down.

Let’s start with Beck, seeing as all Canadiens fans, regardless of Nationality, can get on board with wishing the best for him. Regardless of what the future holds for Beck within the organization, it’s imperative he plays well and continues to develop. Nothing that happens at this tournament is likely to have a massive effect on his development one way or the other, but it is an opportunity for fans to see what he can do. And we saw a lot of what Beck can do, as well as a glimpse at what his role with the Canadiens could be.

Beck played a bottom-six role with a big focus on winning face-offs and killing penalties. He wasn’t leaned upon to create a ton of offence, with his line often assigned tough matchups to limit the opposition. And he fared well in this role, which isn’t surprising. Beck is adept at winning draws, and he showed that here in Sweden. Beck still leads the tournament in FO% at 69.23%, an incredible clip. A number that seems unlikely to be topped by anyone.

 And although his line wasn’t leaned upon for offence, they were still able to provide it. Beck himself only had one point, a goal in Canada’s win over Germany, but his line created offence fairly consistently. They had each of Canada’s first two goals against the Finns in the opener, and I thought they spent a great deal of time in the offensive zone all tournament long.

Generally speaking, I thought his was amongst Canada’s best lines, as good things always seemed to happen when Beck and his wingers were on the ice. And it does give us a glimpse into what Beck’s role with the Canadiens could look like one day. Beck is a very responsible 200-foot centreman, capable of killing penalties and handling tough defensive assignments. Kind of like Phillip Danault was for the Canadiens before he left in free agency.

And the Canadiens could certainly use that in their bottom six as it would be the perfect complement to centremen Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach. Beck has some offensive ability too, mind you, registering 30 points (16 G, 14 A) in 25 games with the Peterborough Petes this season. The Canadiens would love to see that translate to the NHL as well. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek seems to think Beck could be traded to a contending OHL team by this trade deadline.

All in all, it was a solid tournament for Beck, despite Team Canada’s struggles. He didn’t register a ton of points, but he wasn’t brought there to do that. He was there to fulfill a defensive role, winning key draws and kill penalties, and he did that quite well. That isn’t to say Beck was perfect, but he was good enough. For what he was asked to do, he delivered.  

So What Went Wrong With Canada

As for Canada as a whole, they did not live up to expectations, failing to reach the Semi-Finals for the first time since 2019. And they earned that distinction with pretty underwhelming play all tournament long. They may have lost to a fluky goal in the dying seconds, but they earned their loss, nonetheless.

Offense was hard to come by for Team Canada, which seems poetic with all the offensive talent they left at home. But even the talented players they did bring seemed to struggle. Matt Savoie (BUF) had a particularly frustrating tournament, missing glorious chances and committing brutal turnovers. I’m sure he’ll be having nightmares about this tournament for weeks. Matthew Poitras (BOS) has spent the entire season in the NHL, but you wouldn’t have known that just based on his play at the tournament.

Of course, this tournament doesn’t define anyone’s entire career, and both Poitras and Savoie are really talented players who will likely have long, fruitful careers in the NHL. But in this tournament, many players within the top six needed to step up and failed to do so. It makes it difficult to win when that’s the case, and it’s what did Canada in. You could say the Czech’s goal was lucky, but you create your own luck, and it’s clear Canada did not. I lost count of how many shots missed the net.

It ends what was a span of three Gold Medals in four years for Canada, including back-to-back coming into this tournament. It’ll be back to the drawing board for Canada next year, and we will have to wait and see if any Canadiens prospects make the team.