Produced by the Western Hockey League in partnership with BC Tree Fruits, “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” is a multi-part series highlighting the next generation of WHL stars set to embark on a journey pursuing NHL dreams. “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” can be seen monthly at WHL.ca, featuring a key member of the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft Class. Together, the WHL and BC Tree Fruits are “Growing the Game’s Best Talent.”
Some have called Spokane Chiefs’ forward Adam Beckman a surprise contender in this year’s 2019 NHL Draft after playing two years of Midget AAA hockey instead of joining the Chiefs in his first year of WHL eligibility, but should we really be that surprised?
Beckman, a Saskatoon, Sask. native stayed with the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League’s (SMHL) and quite literally blew away the competition. Recording 78 points (44G-34A) in 41 games, Beckman earned the SMHL’s Most Goals, Most Points and Top Forward award in the 2017-18 regular season which was subsequentially followed by an SMHL First All-Star Team position.
“I think it [the SMHL] really prepared me,” said Beckman. “Just getting a good opportunity to play a lot of minutes and play in every key situation helped me to be an impact player this year in the WHL instead of someone on the outside looking in. The experience with the Stars in the tougher situations and getting a chance to play all the time really helped me develop.”
Beckman certainly wasn’t a player on the outside this year. Entering the WHL full time with just one call-up game under his belt didn’t even seem to faze the 6-foot-1, 167-pound left wing, who recorded nine points (6G-3A) in his first 10 games of the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season.
“I think it might have been a little bit unexpected from other people,” said Beckman on his breakout start, “But I expected it of myself.
“It was my goal to be where I am right now, and I think I got a lot of help from my coaches and teammates to have the successful season that I did.”
Finishing the regular season with 62 points (32G-30A) in 68 games, Beckman completed his campaign as the top rookie and fourth overall in scoring on the Chiefs.
As Beckman’s stats continued to trend upwards, so did his NHL Draft ranking. In March he notched 17 points (9G-8A) and a plus-two rating in 14 games, earning himself the WHL’s Rookie of the Month award. His points contribution also helped Spokane clinch a 2019 WHL Playoff position, followed by a first-round series win against the Portland Winterhawks.
“I was finding success, so I just continued to play my game,” said Beckman. “The way I prepare myself, I try and do it the same and just take one step at a time and again I got a lot of help from my teammates at that point – they really helped me explode.”
With his success, Beckman’s NHL Central Scouting ranking among North American skaters jumped from 44th to 34th place, but he wasn’t too focused on that.
“At the end of the day it’s cool to see that, but there was still a lot of work to be done at that point,” said Beckman.
Work is also what Beckman attributes for his team’s strong contention in the playoffs and into WHL Western Conference Championships.
“I don’t think a lot of people outside our team thought we would go that far, and we proved a lot of people wrong and found a lot of success. It would have been nicer to move on further, but we had a lot of fun along the way,” said Beckman.
Despite Spokane’s loss to Vancouver in the Western Conference Championships, Beckman’s schedule didn’t slow down.
“As soon as we were done, I came back home to Saskatchewan and got right back into the gym to try and get myself prepared for the combine and get comfortable with the exercises,” said Beckman.
“The combine was a really neat experience and of course everyone was nervous because there are so many people watching, but it was cool to also get to know the rest of the WHL guys too. After playing a series against Bowen Byram it was cool to actually hang out with him. He’s a really funny kid,” laughed Beckman.
While most players would rather be on the ice than hitting the gym, Beckman admitted that he liked the different combine exercises and really enjoyed the long-jump skill testing.
But like any 18-year-old, it can be difficult to juggle the fun and success of hockey when there’s still so much ahead.
“I try not to focus on anything but my game. You can look at numbers all you want but at the end of the day they don’t mean anything until you’re reaching your goals,” said Beckman. “I just try to keep myself grounded by focusing on the task at hand and I owe a lot of that help to my family, teammates and coaches.”