Owen Beck Primed For Big Role With Team Canada

Montreal Canadiens 2022 second-round NHL Draft selection Owen Beck played minimal minutes during last years tournament, but that is likely to change.

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The strength of Team Canada has long been it’s depth, and that trend will continue. Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Matt Poitras will in all likelihood stick with their NHL clubs. Last year’s captain Shane Wright will almost certainly stay in North America, continuing to establish himself as a professional with the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

Beck will head the centre core with the likes of Brayden Yager, Nate Danielson, Connor Geekie, Fraser Minten and Macklin Celebrini. A centre of two will likely slide to the wing, with Celebrini possibly playing on Beck or Yager’s wing, or whoever slots in as the second centre. It's all speculation without any confirmations until after the December 11-13 selection camp, but depth will be a strength again for the Canadian squad. 

Beck manning the core down the middle sounds exactly like the position Montreal Canadiens fans would love to see him in. He has been among the best in the faceoff dot throughout his career, and if not for his age, 19 years old, he might not even be in the conversation for the tournament. Since he hit the ice in Montreal for his first training camp, Beck has had a poise and maturity about him, and this role appears very fitting.

The way he processes the play away from the puck, and uses his speed to attack and disrupt the opposition will be a huge help. I expect he will be on the top penalty-killing unit, much like in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes. Beck should be heavily relied upon to keep the puck out of his zone, and his offensive growth should be on full display in Sweden.

Kent Hughes and Martin St. Louis know precisely what they have in Beck. So it should come as no surprise that with the best players of last holding onto AHL and NHL roles, Beck will ascend to the top of the lineup. His speed kills, and it’s not as though his performance at the World Junior’s will cement his stock ahead of next year's NHL camp.

But bear in mind, with the Habs wanting to shed cap space, and promote from within, Beck should find his place in the Habs pecking order soon. Development and youth have taken precedence, and with the emergence of young defenders and the three-goalie conundrum, Beck’s sustained strong play could push Hughes toward a trade. Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans and Mitchell Stephens will be around until Beck is ready, but the likelihood of a trade could increase depending on Beck’s growth ahead of his 20th birthday. 

With a gold medal three-peat within grasp, Beck will be an integral piece for Canada’s success. Defensively, especially in the faceoff circle and on the backcheck, Beck has developed a knack for being consistent. But the recent growth in his offensive game could grow even more with Canada, in preparation for the Habs camp in September 2024. 

Beck took a backseat to Wright, Fantilli and Bedard last year. But I wouldn’t expect that he will be the odd man in and out of the lineup. He will show all of his tools, and Canada will reap the benefits because of it.