For the first time since Nov. 7, Ottawa 67’s forward Jack Beck has returned to the lineup. In a game against the North Bay Battalion, Beck was injured and was considered to be day-to-day, and his diagnosis consisted of head coach Dave Cameron calling him “banged up,” but it was certainly much more severe than that.
The Flames drafted Beck with the 168th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but had he played in 2020-21, he likely would have gone much higher. His return signals a massive relief for the 67’s, who were in desperate need of reinforcements after Steven LaForme was suspended indefinitely for a head check in Friday’s loss against the Oshawa Generals, and it was a big boost for the Flames as their potential steal in the draft is back on the ice developing.
Beck’s First Game Back
Missing over 90 days of action and being asked to come back into the lineup is certainly no easy task. Playing on the 67’s fourth line with Brad Gardiner and call-up Jack Dever, it looked like the Beck was being slowly reintroduced to the lineup, but it didn’t take long for him to play key minutes and move his way up the lineup. He was held off the scoresheet, but the performance wasn’t indicative that he had missed so much time.
“Becker is drafted to the National Hockey League for a reason,” Cameron said. “It’s his skill set, and we missed it, we missed it big time. The first game back, there’s some adrenaline there, but there’s going to be that one or two-game adrenaline rush, and then the reality of the fact is that they have been out for a long period of time.”
Related: Flames Prospects Report: Beck, Strömgren, Wolf & Poirier
“There’s going to be a little bit of a grind there, but they are good players, and we will be a much better team when all of those guys are up and running,” he said, mentioning both Ottawa Senators’ prospect Tyler Boucher and Adam Varga.
Beck had some near misses in the game, most notably hitting the crossbar on a five-on-three power play that would have cut the Steelheads lead to just two goals. Typically, he will score on those chances, but small limitations are to be expected after missing so much time. Even with those limitations, he was an immediate impact player to the 67’s power-play unit, which has had its struggles since he went down with an injury.
“He’s smart, but the biggest thing that he brings is a pure shooter,” said Cameron. “He missed an opportunity there today that when he’s back, and the rust has been shaken off, he will bury.”
In the third period, it looked like the entire process would be reset when Beck left the ice shortly after the Steelheads scored their fourth goal of the game, taking a 4-0 lead. There was no incident that would have given visual signs of an injury for the 67’s star forward, but after the game, Cameron cleared the air and told everyone there was nothing to be worried about.
“That was just kinda precautionary,” said Cameron. “Obviously, he’s a big part of our club, and we’re just getting him back.”
Overall, Beck’s return should be considered a success. He had some chances to score, threw the body around, and looked comfortable and confident being back on the ice. It’s a huge addition for the 67’s to be getting arguably their best player back, and for the Flames, they will get to see if the pace at the start of the season can continue when he has fully settled back in.
Beck’s OHL Performance
Before his injury, Beck was having a phenomenal season with the 67’s. Through just 12 games, he scored 11 goals and had 17 total points, good for the team lead in both categories. Beck’s start to the season was hot, and the 67’s reaped the benefits, sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference at the time of his injury. Early in the season, the 67’s announced a group of six players that would be alternate captains in the team’s leadership group, a group that included Beck whenever the team wears their white jersey,
In the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, the 67’s used their second-round pick to draft Beck just 10 picks after drafting Nashville Predators’ prospect Jack Matier. In his rookie season, Beck routinely saw ice time with the second line, consisting of himself, Mitch Hoelscher, and Buffalo Sabres first-round pick, Jack Quinn. The points didn’t come in bunches in his rookie season, but he was always around and earned his keep on the second line. He scored seven goals and added another 12 assists in 56 games in his rookie campaign, but no one knew what a force he would become when he next saw the ice in the OHL.
Related: Jack Beck – 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile
If not for the missed season in 2020-21, Beck could have easily been drafted in the third or fourth round, if not even higher. His play to start the season was nothing short of spectacular, and it always seemed that when his club needed the big goal, he was there to provide it. There’s no reason to believe that he can’t continue playing as he did before the injury when he gets back up to speed.
Flames Fans Should Be Excited
It’s always sweet to have a prospect in your back pocket like Beck, but it’s even sweeter when it comes in the form of a sixth-round pick. The vast majority of players drafted as late as Beck never make it to the NHL, but there is hope that he can not only buck that trend but eventually be a key contributor to the Flames.
Fans should be stoked to see what Beck can do the rest of the season and beyond, but he’s not the only Flames prospect worth keeping your eyes on. One of the most notable names is fellow OHL forward Rory Kerins, a sixth-round pick just one year before Beck has been tearing it up with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season. Through 44 games in the red and white this season, Kerins has scored 26 goals with 75 points.
If the way their prospects have been performing in junior hockey is any indication of what is to come, the Flames may want to spend some more time scouting sixth-round talent. They have found two players who could be difference-makers for them at the NHL level in the years to come, and as the Tampa Bay Lightning have shown, finding good players late in the draft can provide a massive boost when it comes to building a Stanley Cup contending roster.
The Best Is Yet to Come for Beck
The future is immensely bright for the Flames prospect. Hopefully, his injury concerns are over, and he can stay healthy for the rest of the season. If he can do that, there’s no telling how many more goals he can score for an upstart 67’s team that needs all the veteran help it can get. For Flames fans paying attention to the future, Beck’s name is one you will want to highlight and then circle with a bright red marker, he could be a star at the next level.