The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and Upper Deck are hosting the 13th annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase with 35 NHL prospects and rookies scheduled to attend. Held in Arlington, Virginia, the main focus of this event is to provide Upper Deck an opportunity to take all of the official photos they will use as content to create the first NHL and NHLPA-licensed rookie trading cards. With the stress of training camp fast approaching, putting on their respective uniforms will likely make it feel a bit more real. Also, this provides them with an introduction to the NHLPA.
Among the rookies making their presence known are Montreal Canadiens rookies Owen Beck, Filip Mesar and Sean Farrell.
The event is a welcome opportunity for the players to get to know one another, share their hockey journeys, and talk about the upcoming NHL season. The event sees former collegiate teammates catching up and junior hockey rivals meeting each other in a friendly setting for the first time. Best of all for the fans, it will provide some highlights of the skills these players flashed that got them drafted in the first place.
Beck is a smart and agile two-way centreman with an underrated offensive skillset. He thinks the game at a very high pace and is able to make decisions at top speed. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and will compete for every inch on every shift. This trait amplifies his ability to outthink his opponent, giving him the ability to be deceptive with his choices. He makes great reads on every play as he’s able to catch them off-guard with his patterns, hands, and pace of play as he’s always in control of a situation.
Once Beck was selected in the second round, 33rd overall by the Canadiens, he began to show why he was so well-liked by scouts. He arrived at rookie camp with an “aw-shucks” attitude then turned in an impressive performance, earning himself an entry-level contract (ELC). He has proven that he can play in any situation effectively thanks to his well-rounded skill set. He has above-average skating skills, allowing him to create separation or close in defensively. Coupled with his high hockey IQ allows him to make decisions at top speed, and that projects him as a future third-line center.
Latest News & Highlights
While there will be a lot expected from Beck this season, it is most likely to be with him playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Like Nick Suzuki, Beck will play a second season in junior after being drafted, and this could prove to be highly beneficial as it allows him to build up/improve upon parts of his game identified during training camp away from Montreal’s limelight.
Sean Farrell is an undersized forward whose intelligence allows him to compete at any level. He skates with an explosive first step and excellent top speed, especially in straight lines. But his edgework allows him to make cuts to the middle and go to the net or to make a hard stop to allow him to open passing lanes on the rush. He signed his ELC with the Canadiens in late March where he played six games in the NHL.
Farrell scored his first NHL goal, then followed up with his second appearance at the World Championship with Team USA in Tampere, Finland. He played a bottom-six role there scoring two points in 10 games. The Canadiens should have high expectations of him this season. But those are likely firmly planted in the American Hockey League (AHL) as he is expected to be placed in a scoring role with the Laval Rocket, who are setting a high bar in wanting more than just a playoff appearance, but a deep run in 2023-24.
Filip Mesar’s high-end skating ability is evident on every shift. He’s a good stick-handler and can be difficult to defend as a result. Add in a good shot and excellent playmaking skills, and the basis of a productive player takes shape. It’s his transition game that makes him an interesting player in the Habs’ system. That helps to make him a well-rounded player who will need to add strength before being an effective middle-six NHLer.
Mesar disappointed in the playoffs this past season. He helped the Kitchener Rangers make history as they swept the powerhouse Windsor Spitfires in the first round of the OHL Playoffs. However, he wasn’t used in a role that takes advantage of his full skill set. He finished the playoffs with four points in nine games, on a Rangers squad that wasn’t expected to qualify for the playoffs.
“It was not great, not bad. There was some upside and down. I’m taking it positively because I had a really good billet family. Now I know how it’s going to be in Canada. Hockey in Canada is a little bit different. But I got used to it and now I know how it’s going to be next season. I took it positively and it was a great experience for me.”
– Filip Mesar (Filip Mesar hopes Laval is next stop en route to Canadiens, Stu Cowan, The Montreal Gazette, 03 July 2023)
Despite his obvious skill, he does admit there is work to be done to develop that skill. Sending him to the OHL may have been the better decision as it allowed him to acclimatize to the North American game and culture.
The 2023 NHLPA Rookie Showcase is more than just a fun outing. It’s also a milestone that signals the start of rookie camps is nearly upon us, and with that, the start of a new NHL season.