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Olymbec … I mean, Owen Beck has already made his NHL debut, and it wasn’t one that passed quietly into the night. What feels like seasons ago but wasn’t, the Canadiens, battered and bruised, made an emergency recall of this training camp standout.

Beck’s game against the Senators, a disheartening 5-0 loss, still managed to leave a lasting impression. You could look into la place des art’s ”Stargate’ and sense that his presence on the Habs’ third line was inevitable, perhaps even imminent. Some ardent fans and ‘commentateurs’ had Jake Evans shovelling snow between periods in a Blue Jackets onesie by the time Beck stepped off the ice.

So what happened since that moment? Beck, under the watchful eye of development coach Paul Byron, didn’t display the offensive fireworks in the CHL that one might expect from a 20-year-old. But here’s the kicker: in the 30 years I’ve followed the Habs as a fan, and the 17 years I’ve spent chronicling their prospects on an obscure blog (yes, I covered the likes of Janne Lahti in 2007—get me into the Hall of Fame, folks), I’ve never encountered a prospect quite like Beck. Both his style and his substance set him apart. Beck’s call-up for Team Canada in a late junior tournament last year was a rarity, and it’s often seemed that his label as a complete forward has, paradoxically, worked against his aspirations as he stands on the cusp of his professional career versus … let’s say someone whose last name is Roy.


The answer is multifaceted. Beck was originally drafted for his ability to tilt the ice in his team’s favour with speed and grit, according to Nick Richard at Dobber Prospects. His stock was never among the highest of the elite shutdown forwards or the top-tier two-way players. His current evaluation suggests he might top out as an NHL third-liner, the kind of player the Habs could easily sign through free agency. Yet, what makes Beck intriguing is his potential as a playmaker—a skill that several scouts believe will translate to the NHL.

But here’s the real question: what do the Habs want from Beck? A premier complete player in the mould of Tomas Plekanec? That would indeed be a dream scenario. But why not bring Plekanec back into the fold? The former Canadiens forward and gold medal-winning World Cup Championship coach for Czechia would be an incredible mentor. His NHL career, spanning over 1,000 games, was nothing short of remarkable for a third-round pick who steadily honed his craft in the AHL for four years. For several prospects who might be finding Laval’s charms wearing thin, I can think of no better addition to their coaching staff than the Kladno native.

Reste à voir, as they say in la belle province.