The draft is probably the most hyped day of the offseason in the hockey world, and this year even moreso. With the discrepancy in how many games were played by each league (anywhere from a full season to not at all), teams had a much harder time trying to decide who to select. The decision for teams is whether to gamble on proven results over their hockey career or to select based on the potential of what could have been. Jack Beck, selected 168th overall by the Calgary Flames, falls into the latter category.
Who is Jack Beck
Beck has always been a very good player, but never outstanding. He was above a point-per-game through his minor hockey career with the Toronto Marlboros, finishing with 74 points in 73 games in his final season.
Taken in the second round of the OHL draft, the 67s likely expected him to grow into a role, but Beck played his way into a role on the second line of the team in his rookie year, alongside eighth overall pick Jack Quinn and over-ager Mitch Hoelscher. Beck ended up finishing 10th in scoring on the team, but many of his seven goals were incredibly important game-tying or game-winning goals. This was good for 16th among U17 skaters in the OHL, and he hit these totals in spite of having almost zero time on the power play.
Unfortunately, Beck did not get the chance to have a Ryan Francis-esque draft year and really show that he could be an elite forward at the junior hockey level. Sitting out for a whole year was not great for him, but it was excellent for the Flames who got an immensely reliable, offensively gifted forward in the sixth round.
What does Beck bring to the table?
The beauty of Beck’s game is his skating, which is excellent. He has the ability to turn on the jets and just fly by defenders. This is something that people have raved about him since his minor hockey days, but to see him on the ice in the OHL has been even more of a surprise. While he can generate great controlled zone entries with the puck on his stick, he can also use his speed to drive to the front of the net. His heat map from the 2019–20 season shows exactly where he got his chances from.
While his shooting percentage is a touch high at 5v5, given where most of his goals (the blue dots) came from, it makes a lot of sense. Beck has a great shot, but an especially good wrist shot. It is hard and accurate, which gives him the ability to beat goalies especially near the front of the net. Check out this goal he scored right in front of the net from the World U17s:
Just beautiful! While Beck did not shoot much in his first OHL season, he played the role of playmaker, generating a number of key chances for his teammates to score on. Of his 12 assists, seven were primary—a great sign for a rookie forward. As he develops in junior, he will continue to get chances to score and develop both that side and his playmaking game. That said, he clearly has a lot of the fundamentals already in place.
While he’s just shy of six feet tall, he weighs in just around 160 pounds. Beck will need to keep working in the gym to build out his frame more effectively. As he bulks up, he will need to work on being more physical. Beck tends to shy away from that side of the game, preferring to keep his head down and just generate chances on net. While this may have worked so far at the OHL level, it won’t at the professional level. Ensuring he is able to keep building muscle and developing his hitting game will be key for his development.
What is next for Beck?
Beck is a bit of an unknown commodity, both given his limited experience at the OHL level and his low point totals in said season. That being said, he has a lot of the fundamentals that make his very exciting to watch when the OHL finally resumes in a couple months. Of all the Flames’ prospects from this year’s draft, Beck is probably the one with the most potential to climb up the rankings.
Given his size and weight, Beck will likely take some time to develop his game. He probably has a couple more seasons in the OHL and then a further couple in the AHL before he can start thinking of donning the Flaming C. That being said, he clearly has a lot of really foundational traits that the Flames love. Between being an excellent skater and having a great shot, there is a lot to love about the Toronto kid, but his journey to the NHL is likely longer than prospects like Matthew Coronato.
The Flames have had a few prospects who took time to develop before making the jump. This includes fellow OHLer Andrew Mangiapane, who was an over-ager and still took the better part of three seasons in the AHL to make the jump to the next level. Beck will need to keep rounding out his game, but could be a player that makes the NHL down the road.