Look, we know the deal. There is probably a 67% chance that the Tampa Bay Lightning have traded this draft pick well before they’re scheduled to pick late Thursday night. Heck, there’s a 19% chance they’ve traded it by the time this post is published. Julien BriseBois knows that the value of a late first round pick isn’t that much different than a second round pick, and if he can get a little extra from a team looking to jump back into the first round, he’s going to get it.
However, for the purposes of entertainment, it’s more fun to imagine just who the Lightning might draft with the pick as opposed to saying they’re trading if for a 2022 second round pick and a 2024 third rounder. So, after a little bit of research and consultation the scouting staff at Raw Charge has landed on Mississauga Steelheads forward, Owen Beck.
The first thing you notice about the Port Hope, Ontario native is that he is an excellent skater. He has a smooth stride and excellent speed. He can also handle the puck pretty well. While no one is raving about his shot, it is good enough to play at the professional level. At 6’0”, 190 lbs he has decent size and can handle himself in front of the net and in the corners.
After getting drafted in the second round of the OHL Entry Draft, Beck had his first season (2020-21) wiped out due to the COVID restrictions the league dealt with. Last season was his first with Mississauga and he put up a respectable 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 68 games. That put him third on the team behind overage winger James Hardie and fellow potential first-round pick Luca Del Bel Belluz.
While nothing in his game, other than his speed, provides a big “wow” factor, Beck is more than adequate at all aspects. He plays hard all over the ice, using his speed to back check when necessary and has a tenacious willingness to defend in his own zone as well as fight for pucks in the offensive zone. The prospecting sites are definitely mixed in regards to his rankings as Dobber Prospects and Elite Prospects have him 22nd and 21st respecitvely while SMAHT Scouting has him at 41.
With his speed and puck-handling ability he is able to play the transition game very well which would be a plus for him in the Tampa Bay and Syracuse systems. He does have a tendency to look for pass-first solutions as opposed to taking shots, but, again, that would seemingly fit in line with the way the Lightning play.
The big question for him will be if he can score enough to be more than a middle-to-bottom-six center. It’s a question that has been presented to Lightning prospects often during the Al Murray Era. He fits the mold of cerebral, high-energy, forward like Anthony Cirelli, MItchell Stephens, and Ross Colton.
If he can add a scoring touch to the rest of his game he could potentially find a spot as a number-two center in the NHL as well as part of a top power play unit. Even if he doesn’t take that part of the game to the next level, with his speed and work ethic in all three zones, he could be a solid defensive forward.
It will be interesting to see if he gets the chance to improve his scoring in his draft+1 year. Del Bel Belluz was the number one center for the Steelheads last season and is likely, as is Beck, to head back to Mississauga next season. If that happens, Beck may put up similar numbers as he did in 2021-22. Of course, it is junior hockey so he or Del Bel Belluz could be dealt midseason for 35 draft picks and a prospect which would open up some playing time.
The Lightning’s prospect cupboard remains quite bare and if Beck is drafted he’s probably among their top five prospects the minute he pulls the sweater over his head on the stage in Montreal. There may be the desire by the staff to take a swing at a scoring winger with a higher upside (like Filip Mesar) that can give them the top-end talent they lack in the system.
However, this organization has shown that they’re more likely to draft a player that fits their system but might not have as much superstar potential. Beck might not move the needle much for them in regards to their prospect rankings among other NHL clubs, but he is the perfect type of player for the system they run.