The Montreal Canadiens made a lot of changes to their training camp roster yesterday. With the Laval Rocket set to open their own training camp on Monday, the Habs needed to reduce their roster drastically.
That they did, as they sent 25 players to the Laval Rocket and added four more players to waivers who will head down to the Rocket camp once they officially pass through the waiver wire.
The Canaidens also sent one player back to Junior, and that was Owen Beck. The 19 year old center performed well in training camp and looked good in his preseason action. He is a smart, savvy center who plays the game responsibly like a player many years his senior with much more NHL experience.
It must have been tempting to keep Beck around longer, especially with center Christian Dvorak out long term to begin the season. The Canadiens still have Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Sean Monahan and Jake Evans down the middle, but that is about it. There is not a lot of depth and a recall of Lias Andersson or Mitchell Stephens would have to happen if any of those four centers get hurt before Dvorak returns.
We have also seen Monahan playing some wing in training camp so it would have been easy to open up a spot for Beck to start the season as the third or fourth line center.
However, the team made the right decision by sending him down.
Beck was the Canadiens second round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. He had a successful campaign in the OHL last season, scoring 24 goals and 66 points in 60 regular season games and then added 16 points in 22 playoff games as he helped the Peterborough Petes win an OHL championship.
The Port Hope, Ontario native even win a gold medal at the World Juniors as he was added to Team Canada late when Colton Dach was injured. He also made his NHL debut as an emergency recall when the Canadiens were dealing with a plethora of injuries.
An OHL Championship, NHL debut and World Junior gold medal might suggest Beck is ready to move on to the pro level, but there is no rush. Many more players have their development negatively impacted by being rushed to the pro level than being stuck in Junior for too long.
Beck has plenty left to learn with one final Junior season. It is not like we are talking about Jordan Dumais of the Columbus Blue Jackets who led the QMJHL in points with 120 last season and could be headed back there. Beck had 66 points in 60 games and can look to become a more impactful offensive player this season.
With a taste of World Junior action after being parachuted in mid-tournament, Beck is a near lock to play a big role for Canada at this year’s tournament. He will likely be shutdown center with an offensive edge as well which will ensure he plays a big role for another gold medal hopeful. That can’t hurt his development.
Also, if the Petes are not a contender this season, they will look to move Beck to a team that is. Going on yet another long playoff run as a player who plays an important defensive role and can add plenty of scoring is going to allow Beck to develop into a confident, capable two-way forward.
It would also ensure he shows up at the Canadiens training camp in 2024 with a bit of swagger and confidence he can contribute at the NHL level and be more than just a reliable fourth line center. Monahan will likely be gone by then and Dvorak and Evans will be heading into the final years of their contracts which could give Beck plenty of opportunity to carve out a role.
With how poised he looked at training camp, Canadiens management must have considered taking a long look at Beck. But they might the right decision letting him develop in 2023-24 at the Junior level before taking a crack at the NHL roster in 2024-25.
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