Beck versus Mailloux: Saturday night in London

May 14, 2023

The London Knights and Peterborough Petes face off for Game 2 of the OHL Final

Last night, the Peterborough Petes visited the London Knights for Game 2 of the Ontario Hockey League Final. In this series, two Montreal Canadiens prospects are facing off and I was in attendance on Saturday night to get an in-person look at Logan Mailloux (2021, 31st overall) and Owen Beck (2022, 33rd overall).

I don’t profess to be an expert at assessing prospects, so what you’re about to read are impressions after watching one junior hockey playoff game, when I spend far more time watching pro hockey. Here are my impressions from one game, albeit an important one for both teams.

Person-In-Environment (PIE) Assessment

A good assessment of any player will consider their individual stats within the context of their environment. For example, a team considering free agent Michael Bunting should be asking whether he is truly a 50-60 point player, or if his numbers are elevated because of who he played with. The assessment is only as good as your consideration the person within their environment.

Mailloux was drafted a year earlier than Beck – typically that would mean more game experience, but this contrast between the players is mitigated because of the time Mailloux lost due to suspension and injury. Beck has played 128 regular season games in the OHL and 28 playoff games. Mailloux has played less OHL games – just 75 in the regular season and 16 in the playoffs. All of his playoff experience has come this year.

Size is also a factor in junior hockey. For most of the roster, bodies are still developing. A player who has physically matured earlier than his peers will have an edge. Mailloux just turned 20 and is 6’3″ and 208 pounds. Beck is 19, and comes in at 6′ and 190 pounds. Beck is not small, but Mailloux should absolutely stand out in a junior game in ways that Beck will not.

The quality of teammates is an important factor in assessing any player. The Petes are the underdog in this series, and odds favour the Knights to win it all. They entered the game with the Knights having taken the first and the Petes needing to tie the series to stay in it. Their paths to the final were measurably different. The Knights swept their first series, won the second series in five games and the third in six. The Petes swept their first round series, but then went seven games in the next two.

In summary, based on draft year, size, and quality of team, my expectation was that it would be easier for Mailloux to stand out than Beck.

Impressions of Beck

The Petes came out flying in this one, as the team that needed the win most, but it was not sustained. London is and was the stronger team and dominated in shots, but the Petes were more opportunistic and it was Beck who made the best first impression. He was very noticeable on the ice, at least for the half game he played.

The Petes celebrate a goal in Game 2

The thing that stands out about Beck is his reliability. He is positionally sound, and seems to always be in the right place. The Petes were strong with their sticks, creating turnovers and making a quick transition from defense to offense. This may be their regular style, or a function of needing to be opportunistic as the lesser team. Beck is made for that style – breaking up plays and sending his team the other way.

I’ll point out the play on the Petes’ first goal, even though it has nothing to do with Beck. Brennan Othmann, selected by the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2021 draft, hit the Knight carrying the puck, created a turnover, and sent Tucker Robertson (San Jose, fourth round, 2022) in for a shot he didn’t miss. Both players were noticeable for the Petes all night.

Beck is known for his faceoff prowess and I’m sure that’s why his coach uses him as much as he can in important puck drops. There were occasions where his shift was extended so he could take the draw before the change, and other times where the situation meant his line was getting an early call. The Habs can sure use a faceoff specialist.

The thing that surprised me about Beck was his physicality. Last night he was physically engaged in all zones, not afraid to use his body to break up plays in his own end, and not afraid to get into the ugly areas in the offensive zone. I’m not sure if this is a consistent feature of his game, and certainly we hope a second period major and misconduct for a check to the head is not a regular feature, but last night he played with an edge.

Unfortunately, that edge meant I only got to see him for half a game. What I did see was promising. His coach relies upon him in all situations. He’s a good skater who is positionally sound, transitions the puck well, and possibly plays bigger than his size. You get the sense watching him that he is a player you could insert into an NHL game today and he wouldn’t hurt you, and would just grow into a bigger role as he matures.

Owen Beck might be the future third line centre for the Habs who is used in all situations because of a package of skills that includes faceoff dominance. He has the potential to become the best 3C they’ve had in some time. But there is no rush for him to take on that role, and the Habs may choose the long seasoning route for Beck. His ceiling is likely dependent on how much he can develop his offensive game.

Impressions of Mailloux

When I watched Mailloux in the Knights series against the Kitchener Rangers, he made his impression early, scoring just 49 seconds into the game. Last night I barely noticed Mailloux in the first period. There was one sequence where he skated the puck in beautifully and made a nice pass out front for a scoring chance, but beyond that he was quiet.

Mailloux’s impact picked up considerably in the second, and that’s because the Petes took several penalties. Of course, it was Mailloux who struck for a Knights goal on the power play that ensued from the Beck penalty. My developing impression of Mailloux is that he is a power play specialist, and perhaps has a lot of work to do to develop the rest of his game. But on the power play he looks very strong, and the Habs need a power play quarterback desperately.

A note of caution. Sam Dickenson – the 16 year old defender who will eventually be drafted to the NHL as a first round pick, I imagine – also looks very impressive quarterbacking the other wave of London’s power play. What should we read into the fact that the much younger player was just as noticeable? I’m not sure. The sample size is too small.

Perhaps the Knights have the fortune of two big power play quarterbacks with first round skill. Or perhaps the Knights system is so well developed that both players shine in it. Or perhaps it was just how it looked in a small sample. But if I wasn’t watching specifically for Mailloux, Dickenson would have stood out just as much on the power play in the two games I watched.

Nonetheless, Mailloux is a beautiful skater who is not afraid to take the puck for a skate. I do wonder how he will adjust when the NHL doesn’t have as much open ice. He also has a potent shot. His accuracy is decent but will improve, I’m sure, but he can offer up a booming one timer, or float a wrister through traffic to create fits in front of the net. Even his floater is heavy. But he’s not just a shooter. He definitely has the tools to be developed into an effective quarterback.

Mailloux sets up on the point for the draw for the Knights power play

Mailloux’s offensive gifts are apparent as soon as the Knights go on the power play. In the two games I watched, there was little evidence of those gifts at five on five. In the first game, I thought his defensive awareness was off but I didn’t notice that last night. He seemed to be aware of who was around him, but there were some iffy decisions. He was on the ice for a couple of costly goals.

One thing of concern is that is that I have not noticed Mailloux maximize his size. He should be rubbing other kids out with ease, and could dominate with just a little physicality. I saw Beck engage more in half a game than I did Mailloux over two games. The scouting reports I have seen say he plays with an edge, but I’ve not seen that in my small sample size.

From those games, I would describe a big man who doesn’t play big. Last night I noted one occasion where he gave up the puck to avoid a hit at the blue line – that should not be happening at this level with his size. It’s possible that his edge has worked against him and he is working to be more careful about that in big games.

Like Beck, Mailloux’s coach uses him in all situation, so this bodes well. The impression I am left with is that he can be developed into a top-4 defender, but his defensive game will likely need work to be ready for the NHL. We’ll need to wait and see how close to NHL-ready is his power play quarterbacking. Some AHL developmental time seems like the sensible path for him.

Overall Impression

I watched this game as a Habs fan, though I must admit I found myself pulling for the underdog Petes by accident. The Knights fans are a force and it was a fun atmosphere to watch in. They nailed “ref you suck” as well as any team you’re going to watch.

For the Habs, I feel confident I was watching two players who will convert to the NHL level. Each player will be working on opposite ends of their game – Mailloux on the defensive end and Beck on the offensive – but their floors probably still convert to the NHL with time.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

3 thoughts on “Beck versus Mailloux: Saturday night in London

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