Taylor Beck should challenge for an NHL job in Edmonton in 2016-17

Taylor Beck signing on with the Edmonton Oilers got some
brief attention when it happened and has mostly been ignored since. Yet he’s
not a player who should be entirely counted out of the team’s plans for
2016-17. Not only should he be good enough to challenge for a spot in training
camp, but even if he’s sent down that may not be the last of him.

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The book on Beck has always been that he had power forward
potential, combining good hands with a 6’2”, 205-pound frame. The problems
along the way have been things like skating and consistent physical play. That’s
how he found himself in the minors last year – the scoring wasn’t quite good
enough to climb the depth chart and the physical play wasn’t good enough to
impress in a depth role.

Yet there’s something there.

In 2014-15, Beck played his only full NHL season, and did it
under trying circumstances. Nashville has been using Paul Gaustad in what we’d
call the Boyd Gordon role the last few years, getting a ton of defensive zone
starts with very little offensive responsibility. Beck was welded to Gaustad at
the hip, not just playing fourth-line minutes but taking on *tough* fourth-line
minutes.

He delivered eight goals and 16 points in 62 games in that
situation. That’s better production than Iiro Pakarinen managed last year in a
less specialized role, better production than Matt Hendricks managed, too.
Project it over 70-odd games and that’s Lauri Korpikoski level scoring, but
without Korpikoski’s miserable two-way numbers.

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For those who prefer 5-on-5 points/hour, Beck scored
1.28
in his lone year in Nashville. That would have ranked ninth on the
Oilers last season, ahead of Pakarinen, Zack Kassian, Korpikoski and all of the
team’s part-timers. It’s a total virtually on par with what Nail Yakupov (1.35)
and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1.36) managed.

Beck is 25, and there’s little indication that the scoring
has dropped off. Here are his AHL numbers by age:

  • 2011-12: 74 games, 16 goals, 40 points (0.54 points/game)
  • 2012-13: 50 games, 11 goals, 41 points (0.82 points/game)
  • 2013-14: 65 games, 17 goals, 49 points (0.75 points/game)
  • 2014-15: in the NHL
  • 2015-16: 50 games, 17 goals, 34 points (0.68 points/game)

Beck’s overall points-per-game total is a touch below what
he’d done in the two seasons prior to his NHL campaign. His goal numbers are actually
better than they’ve been in any prior season.

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Given his age and his relatively steady production, it seems
likely to me that Beck could step right back into the majors and contribute
something in the 15-20 point range on a fourth line given a ton of defensive
zone starts. That’s a player who can compete with a Pakarinen, replace an aging
Hendricks or fill-in as required by injury or trade.

Beck may start the year in the minors, but his contract suggests that he
won’t be there all year. His NHL salary is a reasonable $650,000, while in the
AHL he’ll earn $250,000. It’s interesting to note that he’s guaranteed $350,000
in total salary, meaning that if he doesn’t get an NHL call-up the Oilers will
be on the hook for an extra $100,000. That’s the kind of deal a team makes only
when it expects that the guy is going to be spending some time in the majors.

At worst, Beck will provide some internal competition and
minor-league scoring. But he might be an NHL’er, too, a cheap young
fourth-liner with size and some scoring skill. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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  • Moe Sizzlack

    Opening goals in the video against Oilers and Leafs then another vs Sabres ..

    Looks promising ! Lol jk jk

    Must admit, like the fact he’s a righty

    Still like Slepyshev better tho \_ –

  • Dirtski

    Ahead of hendricks and all our other 4th and part time players in points and a sound two-way game – @ $650,000? Sounds like a good signing and a good guy to have around. Thanks Willis.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Off topic: would anyone else have considered making a similar trade that Coyotes made today to net a forward like Crouse? To me that’s one of those moves I would’ve liked the Oilers to be making more of 5 or so years back. You know…when they were really destitute.

  • OilCan2

    Interesting player with size & some NHL skill. The contract sure looks like they expect to see him on the roster with the Oilers for at least some time this season. This is the first time I’ve heard of that kind of minimum amount between both leagues.

    Players like him and Pitlick are maybe the reason we have not seen a free agent signing for RW

  • The Goalie 1976

    It’s a nice reminder that the Oilers have some cover if Nail struggles or gets traded, and also if JP needs some adjusting on the Barons. Beck should be able to provide adequate replacement level ability at worst.

    This is a low low risk signing with some decent upside.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I don’t see upside in signing a career AHLer. At best he can help mentor prospects in Bakersfield. At worst, he takes playing time away from prospects.

      Now that the thrill of signing Lucic has worn off, looking at the defensive depth chart is sobering. Relying on the health of Klefbom, the recuperation of Davidson’s knee after 2 tons of Byfuglien bent it backwards and AHL-level talent like Reinhart and Nurse taking a big leap forward; not to mention Talbot being the only semi-proven option in goal… we could EASILY finish dead last again. Hopefully it’s just the effect of a decade of constant disappointment but I have a bad feeling about this year.

      • RJ

        Join the club.

        Take a guy like Looch. He plays a physical game, but he rarely misses a game. Unless he gets suspended, it’s entirely realistic to expect he’ll be good for 80+ games. On the flip side, for all the hype Oilers bloggers give Klefbom, he’s never played a full season in the pros. Is it reasonable to expect that he will suddenly become durable? It’s always possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

        What if Talbot takes a little slide, or he gets banged up and has to sit out 10 games? Does anyone seriously expect the Monster to come in and win all those games? I wouldn’t bet on it.

        The biggest need for this team is a PP QB, or at the very least some more solid puckmovers. Two off-seasons, and it’s still not addressed. Instead we see Oilers media acting like Chiarelli apologists, trying to sell how great shot-blocking defensive defencemen will be, like its the 1980s again. You need puckmovers, and Larsson isn’t proven to do that.

        The two best moves under the new regime are moves your gramma could have made: picking McDavid and picking Puljujarvi when he fell this year. Remember when a veteran GM was going to fix things? Or a supposedly elite coach was going to straighten the ship? It seems laughable now.

        • Serious Gord

          I largely agree with both you and Reg.

          I wouldn’t call it “laughable” though. Not yet.

          Some luck on the injury front and some solid improvement in several of the young players and the oil are near or in the playoffs.

          It just appears that chia and the oil are running a pretty risky gauntlet with little room for error.