Two years ago, the odds that the 6-foot-2, 215-pound defenceman would end up playing an overage season in junior would have been remote. The Uxbridge, Ont., native was a relatively high NHL pick, 63rd overall, attended Hockey Canada's under-20 summer development camp and was named captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds early in his third season. Of course, a concussion sustained that season set him back; he missed 46 games due to injuries across the last two years with the Soo and Niagara IceDogs.
Now the veteran defenceman, determined not to be discouraged, is hoping for a bounce-back year with the Guelph Storm. Beukeboom was the first big-name blueliner to move to a contender when the Storm picked him up last week from the IceDogs for three priority selection draft picks, including a 2014 second-rounder. It's another lifeline and shot at a pro contract for Beukeboom, whom the St. Louis Blues declined to sign last spring.
"I know for a fact last year that St. Louis didn't sign me because of my injuries," Beukeboom, 20, said last Friday after his first game with the Storm. "Maybe I could have been in the 'A,' I don't know. I'm playing well. I know teams are watching me. It's just a matter of helping the team out. It's a really good situation."
The Storm, who are fourth in the Western Conference with a .639 point percentage and have scored a league-best 76 goals in 18 games, make the Sleeman Centre a fairly cheery place when they're in good form. Their twin bugaboos have been inconsistency and the back-end depth beyond their two drafted defenders, Toronto Maple Leafs high second-rounder Matt Finn and 6-foot-5 Andrey Pedan, whom the New York Islanders selected in the third round in 2010. They lost 2-of-3 last weekend with Beukeboom freshly added to the fold, although Pedan was sitting out the first three of a four-game suspension for a match penalty. Pedan sits out the last game of his suspension on Wednesday.
Beukeboom was a reliable second-pairing defenceman last season, racking up a +22 plus/minus while the IceDogs tied for the OHL's second-best record and reached the league final. Guelph brought him in to play that complementary role.
"He's a stable overage defenceman," Storm coach Scott Walker said. "To see the added value of him will come when everyone is back. Right now it's hard to say. When you get Andrey in and you get your full lineup, I think he's going to be a steadying force that allows the others to not have to play 35 minutes a game and the guys are really enjoying having him."
The NHL lockout cost Beukeboom a chance at a free-agent look this fall. The son of long-time NHLer Jeff Beukeboom believes playing the full schedule will help open a door at the next level.
"I've had a bit of an injury bug over the last four years. I think if I can stay healthy, everything will take care of itself. The lockout is out of my power. I just have to worry about playing hockey with the rest of the guys."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.