Taylor Beck had 39 goals and 93 points in 61 games with Guelph this year. (OHL Images)
The Nashville Predators have a history of successfully developing their draft picks into bona fide NHL players. More than half of their current roster consists of players drafted by the organization, including Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and David Legwand.
So Taylor Beck shouldn’t be worried about making it to the big league, right?
“Yeah, I was really happy with Nashville,” Beck said of his draft team. “It’s a great city and a great hockey organization and I’m looking forward to playing with them in the next couple years. It should be a lot of fun.”
Beck was hardly an offensive juggernaut before he was drafted in the third round (70th overall) in 2009. After putting up just 21 points in his rookie season in the Ontario League, the Guelph Storm right winger improved to 58 points in 67 games in his second year. After being selected, he exploded with 93 points and won the Jim Mahom Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top scoring right winger.
“He isn’t the prettiest looking player as far as taking the strides and all the details with the game,” said Nashville assistant GM Paul Fenton. “But (we liked) his offensive incentives, his puck-protection ability, just the way that he’s going to the hard areas. We saw kind of a raw talent here that has a chance to become probably a very good power forward if he works on his skating and the rest of his game.”
Beck started turning heads as a midget player, said Guelph coach-GM Jason Brooks. Brooks liked Beck’s abilities on the ice, in addition to his attitude off it. He saw a player who had much room for improvement, but one that was capable of putting points on the board. And though Brooks was an assistant coach when Beck was drafted in the second round of the OHL Priority Selection, his team is now benefitting from then-coach and GM Dave Barr's pick.
“He is a focused individual who knows what he wants,” Brooks said. “He is driven to be a professional hockey player. He looks out for himself, he acts like a pro when it comes to taking care of himself. He wants to score goals and he’s darn good at it.”
Beck knows keeping his eye on the prize is a big part of any success he’ll have.
“After the two Nashville camps – the development camps and the training camps – being around all the NHL players really gave me an advantage because it showed me what I need in order to get to the next level,” Beck said. “I saw guys always on the bikes and always working out. I want to get to the NHL and I need to continue to work hard, so staying focused is something I take pride in for sure.”
Beck believed his play in the 2009-10 season merited an invite to Team Canada’s camp for the world juniors. After not getting the call, though, Guelph’s fans were nervous Beck’s play would drop because of the disappointment. Beck, however, looked at it a different way.
“I know I have another year of eligibility and that’s definitely one of my goals this year,” Beck said. “It’s every kid’s dream to play for their country, to play for Canada in the world juniors and it’s definitely one of mine. When I didn’t get invited, I took it as a sign that I have to just work harder to get on the team next year.”
Beck, understanding he must work on his foot speed, recognizes he has the opportunity to make a big impact in the NHL one day.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, stay focused and I know I’m going to be there one day.”
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