The 2022 NHL draft has been panned as a weak draft after the top 15-20 draft picks overall. Certainly, it is particularly weak at defense and in the net. However, there is forward depth in this NHL draft that will surprise in the years to come. Forward depth that can slip to the Edmonton Oilers’ draft slot at #29. One of those forwards that could be on the Edmonton Oilers radar is Owen Beck, C, with the Mississauga Steelheads.
Who Is Owen Beck?
Owen Beck as with many junior players missed the entire 2020/21 season due to the Covid cancellation in the OHL. Born February 3, 2004, Beck was the 29th pick in the OHL Priority Draft in 2020 for the Mississauga Steelheads. Beck has decent size at 6’0”, 185 pounds and has a very athletic background including plenty of time on the rugby pitch. He played 2C behind another 2022 NHL Draft prospect Luca Del Bel Belluz. He also played both specialty teams primarily on 2PP and 2PK although he played some 1PK as the season ended. He ended his freshman OHL campaign at 21-30-51 in 68 games with a plus 17 while compiling 170 shots on goal.
What Does Owen Beck Bring?
The primary skill draft experts talk about is his skating. He is an incredibly strong skater who gets to top speed quickly. In addition, he has strong edges that give him excellent agility. His edgework allows him to work well inside the middle of the ice with the puck while also being able to avoid contact.
The other part of his game that does not get enough attention is his puck skills. With a lot of focus on his lack of scoring, what does not get noticed is his command of the puck throughout the ice. Again, a great deal of this relates to his superior skating and edgework. Beck is an exit and entry machine who has a deft ability to put his teammates in great spots with the puck for success.
Beck is also a tremendous 200-foot player. His defensive conscience is high end for such a young player. No question part of his defensive excellence comes from his intelligence. Beck was even awarded the Bobby Smith award as the OHL Top Scholastic Player in 2022. However, Beck also brings a relentless motor that causes a lot of discomfort to opposing players.
What Are the Opportunities for Improvement?
Honestly, Beck does not lack for much in his overall game. However, he isn’t ranked as a late first or second round pick without there being some issues. The most glaring opportunity for Beck is to be more creative in the offensive zone. For a player that has such excellent skating skills and command of the puck with his edges, he often seems to settle for conservative plays inside the zone. He also tends to defer to his teammates when there are opportunities for him to do more with the puck on his stick. Certainly, this would increase his scoring rates which is a primary concern of most draft experts. In his defense, it should be noted that Beck did not get much 1PP time, which certainly could have helped his scoring rates. In addition, as 2C he often saw a little less quality in his linemates at least as it relates to their ability to produce in the offensive zone.
What Does He Project to Be?
Most draft reports have him as a top 9 F with a slot as a 3C. His motor, skating ability and his desire to play in the middle third of the ice are all natural traits for NHL centers. However, I wonder a little if he would not be better as a winger in the pro game. His ability to use his outside edges to move in and out would make him incredibly dangerous on the attack at the pro level. Regardless of his pro position, Beck’s skating and his intelligent two-hundred-foot game makes him a low risk bet for the team who drafts him.
Does He Fit the Oilers?
Honestly, this is a player that should fit any team’s draft needs. He is a multi-faceted player with great skating and intelligence. Can he finish enough at the NHL level? That is the question. More than likely he will be a very useful middle 6 forward who can play both C and RW at the pro level. For the Oilers, he’s an ideal candidate to draft, but should probably be one that is available in the middle of the second round.
Corey Pronman, The Athletic, #28
Bob McKenzie, TSN, #33
Scot Wheeler, The Athletic, #46