As the Islanders’ coaches, scouts and management continue to judge players and make decisions during this intriguing NHL training camp, keep it here at Eyes on Isles as we take a look at individuals who need to make or brake the team. Whether it be prospects looking for their first chance or veterans trying to stick with the team, there are a lot of Islanders players who will be facing battles for spots.
Today let’s look at recently-acquired Taylor Beck.
Before last season, the 24-year-old from Niagara Falls in Canada was a reliable call-up for the Nashville Predators. However, in 2014-15, he played 62 games, cementing himself as a bottom-six NHL forward who has little potential, but good size and consistency.
Beck has had quite an eventful offseason. After failing to sign with the Predators as a restricted free agent, his rights were traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he signed a one-year contract. Then just before training camp started, he was traded to the Islanders as part of that Michael Grabner deal. Pretty crazy for a guy who has been with the Predators organization since 2009.
Does he have a chance at making the roster out of training camp? I think that depends greatly on how many forwards the team decides to carry. His chances increase substantially if the Islanders have 14 forwards instead of 13. This is largely due to the fact that Beck could be a valuable asset as a healthy scratch. His size and determination could help spark the Islanders if they are not doing well. He could also come in and help the penalty kill if it is cold. He has enough experience for a coach to be comfortable to let him sit games as opposed to gaining more in-game knowledge.
It is pretty evident that the Islanders’ top 12 forwards are set. They will likely use the same as last year, so he will be fighting the likes of veterans Steve Bernier and Eric Boulton, rookies Michael Dal Colle and Kirill Petrov, as well the likes of Bracken Kearns, Justin Florek, and Joe Whitney. They may not be standouts, but there are a lot a guys that will be competing for those one or two jobs.
Beck does have a slight advantage over Dal Colle and Petrov because it makes more sense to have them get more playing time in juniors or the minors. However, if one of them blows people away in training camp, that will bump guys down the depth chart and ultimately leave one less spot open.
Although Kearns, Florek, Boulton and Whitney are decent gritty players, some question if they are NHL material. If not, they are valuable call-ups. Beck, on the other hand, just came off a full season in the NHL at only 24 years old and therefore has an advantage over them.
Bernier, however, should be a favorite to win a job over Beck. He has a lot more NHL experience and could be an asset on the weak penalty kill.
If the Islanders open 14 forward spots instead of 13, then Beck could be in luck. But he needs to show he deserves it.