A first hand assessment of Taylor Beck from a Guelphite
Honestly I thought Latta would be the better pro, he seemed to not have any weaknesses other than his size and Beck’s skating was always clunky at best. But it now makes a ton of sense that Taylor has achieved more thus far. In junior, he was a force, fitting that he played for the Storm he was a hurricane offensively, a bit like a manic Patric Hornqvist. Yet his hands and vision were supreme, he was clearly a gifted hockey player, his neutral zone work was especially impressive, the way he would gain speed and make clever passes, sending defenders into convulsions. I always knew he would be effective at the pro level but seemed impossible to figure out exactly how his career would manifest itself.
Since day one though you could tell his passion and energy for hockey were second to none as well as his determination. We have a retired Olympic figure skater as a skating coach in Guelph and he was constantly working with her, improving every single aspect of his stride and stance. It’s fitting that the last time I saw Taylor play was in a playoff series we lost to Nazem Kadri and the London Knights as he compares strikingly to Naz- a player that isn’t complete enough to be a bonafide "1st line center" or in Beck’s case a true top tier scoring winger but you love having them there because you know you’re going to get an elite effort every night and that they have unique and brilliant ways of producing offense.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Beck and the way he approaches hockey. I think he will have a long NHL career that will never reach the true ceiling of his potential but will be a valuable commodity nonetheless. Alot like Steve Sullivan ironically (Sullivan size and Beck's skating were the reason people doubted their pro careers) and similarly he will stick around a lot longer than he should due to his dedication, intelligence and unique skillset.
PS I played shinny with him on an outdoor rink once. He and Rafael Rotter and a few other storm guys who were boarding with a local family played outside in a park one weekend. It was incredible, these guys are so good it makes your head spin, he was especially hard to poke check.