With just 25 players remaining on the roster, after assigning defensemen Johan Alm and Joe Piskula to the Milwaukee Admirals and forward Kevin Fiala to HV71 (SEL) Friday, the Nashville Predators still have to trim the team down to 23 to meet League rules before opening night on October 9 against the Ottawa Senators. The decisions of who to cut all depends on the health of a few forwards. Center Mike Fisher will be placed on injured reserve after rupturing an Achilles’ tendon in July and possibly winger Viktor Stalberg too with a lower body injury suffered on September 22 during practice. Matt Cullen’s health is in question, also, and is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. With that being said, only one forward will be cut by the Predators.
Will Taylor Beck be one?
At 15, Beck dominated with the Niagara Falls Thunder scoring 139 points (64 goals, 75 assists) in 69 games with 75 penalty minutes. Although he was a physical player at the youth level, it would not continue later on in his career.
In 2008, the native of Niagara Falls, Ontario played alongside Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Taylor Hall, and Zach Kassian at the U-17 World Challenge representing Canada Ontario. He tallied an assist in three appearances.
After an impressive outing the in 2007-8 and 2008-9 with the Guelph Storm (OHL) amassing 79 points (29 goals, 50 assists) in 123 games, the Predators drafted Beck 70th overall in 2009. He would then play two more seasons in juniors scoring 93 and 95 points, respectively, before turning pro. It was clear at that point Nashville had a special talent, but needed grooming.
Beck played four games in Milwaukee following the completion of the OHL season in 2011. Since then, he has played in 193 career AHL games totaling 131 points (44 g, 88 a) and was the second-leading scorer on the Admirals last year.
With an injury riddled locker room, the Predators recalled Beck for his first game in the NHL. Although it ended in a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Beck was successful for the remainder of his time in Nashville. In 16 games, he scored three goals and added four assists. It was almost a sure thing that Beck was to make the team out of training camp in 2013, but that would not be the case. Beck appeared in just seven games last season but did not make an impact statistically.
Why Beck Will Make the Team
Nashville signed the 23-year-old days ago as a restricted free agent to a one-year, one-way contract worth $550,000 days ago bodes well for his shot at making the opening night roster. Despite not having a contract, Beck attended training camp without a contract, which showed commitment, something coaches and management like to see. The aforementioned injuries benefits his chances, as well. The thing that helps him most, however, is his work ethic. “You definitely want to come here and prove something every day – be the hardest worker and show I deserve to be here,” Beck told Eric Stormgren of The Tennessean. Beck has natural scoring abilities that compliments head coach Peter Laviolette’s system. Beck is not a top-6 forward quite yet, but he has tremndous up-side that is hard to pass up.
Why Beck Will Not Make the Team
Despite teammate injuries, the 6-foot-2, 207-pound winger remains on the outside looking in. He, Kevin Fiala, Calle Jarnkrok, and Colin Wilson were mixed in the rotation Friday. The competition may just be too much for Beck to overcome. There are too many deserving NHL veterans and elite unproven forwards that trumps anything Beck brings to the table, unfortunately. The current battles for spots lies between these players: Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Rich Clune, Filip Forsberg, Paul Gaustad, and Eric Nystrom. Having to trim just one, the painful decision would be Beck.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.