The Nashville Predators sent four players back to their junior teams in the Canadian Hockey League and released two other players from their amateur tryout agreements.
This year’s first round draft pick, Austin Watson, has been sent back to the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. Another 2010 pick, Taylor Aronson has been sent back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Aronson has been recovering from an offseason shoulder surgery and as a result didn’t have an opportunity to make a name for himself at camp. Michael Latta and Charles-Olivier Roussel, both 2009 draft picks, have been sent to their junior teams, the Guelph Storm and the Montreal Junior Hockey Club. Jamie Doornbosch and Cameron Wind were the players released from tryout agreements. Doornbosch is only 20 and technically can still play one more year of junior for the Peterborough Petes.
That leaves 12 players who had attended the Predators Rookie Camp remaining at the main training camp. Included among the rookies still vying for a roster spot include local prospect and Hobey Baker Award winner Black Geoffrion, Ryan Ellis, the Predators first round draft pick in 2009, Nashville’s 2007 first round pick, Jonathon Blum, Mike Santorelli’s brother Mark, and Taylor Beck, the third round pick of the Predators in 2009.
Beck has made quite an impression at training camp so far, and it’s by no accident. Beck says he had been working to improve his game over the summer. “I know what my positives are and I know what my negatives are so I focused on the negatives. I did a lot of things to improve and I’m just going to continue to do that,” he said, adding “I just came here planning to work as hard as I can and not save anything. I want to show them what I can do.”
Showing the Predators organization what he’s can do is exactly what Beck has been doing. Beck lead the offense for the rookies in back to back games played against the Florida Panthers prospects with 3 goals and 4 points last week. He has also played exceptionally well during club scrimmages at Centennial Sportsplex during the main training camp, taking the puck to the net and finishing plays on a consistent basis.
Beck has matured into an offensively minded player. In his rookie season with the Storm, Beck ended the season with 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points. In 2008-2009, his numbers exploded, tallying 22 goals and adding 36 assists for 58 points. Last season, Beck posted 39 goals and 54 assists for 93 points in 61 games with Guelph.
The St. Catherines, Ontario native told Predlines that he used to list Mario Lemieux as his favorite player growing up but has more recently changed his mind and now cites Phoenix captain Shane Doan as the player he most admires. For Beck, Doan is exactly the type of player he wants to be. “He takes pucks to the net. He’s a great power forward. He’s a leader off and on the ice. He does everything you need to do to win,” Beck said of his idol.
If Beck is trying to play like Doan, he’s off to a good start. But it’s a long shot for Beck to make the Predators’ roster this year. Nashville is a team with a logjam of talented forwards and as the saying goes the road to Nashville travels through Milwaukee. But the 19 year old is too young for the American Hockey League and will be sent back to the OHL. When asked will be brought back to Guelph with him if he is cut from the team, Beck said “the experience. Anytime you are around NHL guys you have to take as much as you can away from it and learn.”
The Storm just wrapped up their preseason camp undefeated. The local paper in Guelph asked veteran winger Tyler Carroll how would the team fit Beck, Latta and Peter Holland (Anaheim prospect) back into the lineup after the three return to the OHL. Carroll jokingly answered that the Storm does not need any of them back. Carroll should be careful what he wishes for. Many Predators fans are hoping Beck has played his last game in the OHL.
The Predators first pre-season game is Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricane. Saturday, the Predators play Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals and Monday concludes the home pre-season game schedule. Nashville takes on the Atlanta Thrashers. Tickets are still available for these games. Fans can still get free tickets to the Monday night game by filling out this form. All games are played at Bridgestone Arena. Game time is at 7p.m.