Saskatoon native Adam Beckman was one of the lone bright spots on the AAA Stars last season.
The club missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and finished the season with just one win in their final eight games, but Beckman, who came into last season as a 15-year-old rookie shone all year long putting up 41 points in 44 games.
Before playing his first season of midget AAA hockey, he was selected by the Spokane Chiefs last summer in the fifth round of the 2016 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
For the past week, Beckman was at WHL training camp, where he left quite an impression on the Chiefs brass, so much so that they signed him to a standard player's agreement on Aug. 28.
"He came in and he was really a bright light at camp," Chiefs general manager Scott Carter said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "He played with confidence. He played like he wants to be here. He showed a lot of offensive ability [and] went into the hard places to get the puck and make plays. He earned himself a contract and we're really excited about it."
The Chiefs invited 62 players to camp and then cut that down to 40 players for their annual red and white scrimmage on Sunday, Aug. 27. Beckman scored a goal and added an assist in that game, which was played against all Chiefs players vying for spots, not just the rookies. Following the scrimmage, management then trimmed the roster to 30 players.
Although Beckman is not guaranteed to make the final team (no player is), Carter said if he keeps playing the way he did in camp, there will be a spot on the Chiefs for Beckman to start the WHL season.
"I foresee him starting the season with us," Carter said. "We'll have six players away at NHL camps so it will be a prolonged try-out for several of the players and he'll be through Tri-City and then I believe probably starting the season with us.
"Moving forward, he has the potential to be a top-six forward for us that can create offence. He's a good skater. He's got good vision with the puck. He's got good patience with the puck. He doesn't panic."
Making the jump from AAA to the WHL is not easy, but one thing helping Beckman is that he's grown a few inches this summer, just in time for the season.
He's now listed at 6'0", 165 lbs.
But it's not just his recent growth spurt that has Carter believing he's ready for the next level.
"At our camp, our veteran players play with the rookies...and he's out on the ice with the veteran players, not losing a step," Carter said. "He was able to hold his own so I think that gives us a pretty good indication that he's able to play at that level. It's not like he's out there with 14 and 15-year-olds."
Beckman signed the contract ahead of the Chief's pre-season tournament in Everett this weekend, which needed to be done if he was going to play.
By signing the contract, it also means Beckman now no longer has NCAA eligibility, so a U.S. college is no longer a possibility.
But WHL players do earn money towards their post-secondary education if they stay in Canada.
"He earns money right away for his education package for the Western Hockey League scholarship program," Carter added. "So by signing up, he starts that program this year."
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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