2021-22 Team: Winnipeg ICE (WHL)
Date of Birth: Jan. 1, 2004
Place of Birth: St. Albert, AB
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 179 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 3rd (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 4th
- Recruit Scouting: 5th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 5th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 6th
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 4th
- Smaht Scouting: 4th
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 4th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: 3rd
The 2022 Draft has a trio of centerman taking up residence at the top of the leaderboard. Shane Wright, Logan Cooley, and the subject of this prospect profile, Matthew Savoie. In fact, that could be the order they go in when all is said and done on July 7.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Comparing the three, Savoie might be the most offensively gifted with his speed, silky smooth hands and premier playmaking abilities. The former first-overall pick by the Kootenay Ice in the 2019 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantum Draft was criticized earlier this season for his lack of 5-on-5 production, as most of his points came with the man advantage. Though, lately, he’s turned it around in that respect as he now has 17 goals at even strength and 11 on the power play.
Without a doubt, Savoie is a premier threat with the extra man as his elite vision often finds the stick of a teammate. While he has been known to pass more often than shoot (possibly too much at times), his wrist shot is hard and accurate, which just adds to the threat he already is on the power play. Special teams are where he’s going to generate most of his points in the NHL, but he will have to continue to develop his game at even strength in order to maximize his potential when he gets there.
Evidence of his superior skills was on display in the on-ice testing portion of the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on March 23 when Savoie led all 36 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) skaters in 30m Forward With Puck, Weave Agility With Puck, Transition Agility and Reaction With Puck drills. Clearly, he’s one of the best skaters in the draft when it comes to the top CHL players.
In the game itself, Savoie showcased his slick edges and willingness to go to the net when he busted in front of Mats Lindgren and got a good shot on goaltender Tyler Brennan. When you watch video of him, you can easily see that he’s not afraid of the crease or the middle of the ice. Even though he’s only 5-foot-9, he uses his speed and agility, not his size to create chances in and around the blue paint. Basically, he’s a multifaceted weapon that will be difficult to contain when he makes it to the NHL one day.
The fact that he’s already done it against NHLers (albeit in a 4-on-4 tournament in the offseason) like Jake DeBrusk, Brandon Hagel and Jordan Martinook, bodes well for his future. In that tournament, he looked comfortable especially in the semifinal when he was one of the most noticeable players on the ice.
“Savoie just exploded,” said Tyrel Spitzer, his former coach and the event organizer. “He just went to a whole other level. He was so dynamic with his speed, his shot, his playmaking ability. He was relentless…I’m used to seeing this against his peer group or maybe the junior-level players. All of a sudden, he’s doing this against NHL- and AHL-level players. It was like, ‘Oh my goodness. This is incredible’” (from ‘For 2022 NHL Draft ‘offensive dynamo’ Matt Savoie, stardom has always been inevitable’ Scott Wheeler, The Athletic, 3/24/22).
That’s mighty impressive for a 16-year-old playing in a tournament filled with veteran players. He’s now dominating the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Winnipeg ICE where he’s on pace for a gaudy 33 goals and 91 points in only 65 games. With his skating, edges, work ethic and playmaking ability, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he put up those types of numbers with a team in the NHL. Whoever doesn’t get Cooley or Wright will be getting a heck of a prize, that’s for sure.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Matthew Savoie – NHL Draft Projection
If the well-rounded Wright and Cooley weren’t part of this draft, I could easily see Savoie going first overall. He’s just that good. He not only can beat you with a quick deke or burst of speed but also brilliantly set up someone as well. When he’s on the ice, opponents can’t just focus on him, they have to make sure to cover his wingers and defencemen too or he will find them with a precise pass. As it is, he probably will get taken third or fourth overall behind Wright, Cooley and maybe even Simon Nemec if a team feels they desperately need a top-pairing defenceman.
“Savoie works the perimeter really well, and has the stickhandling, vision, and IQ to set up a large amount of scoring chances for his teammates. His confidence is also clear with the way he moves around the ice and isn’t afraid to push the pace. The only problem is, he does force a lot of passes that don’t always hit. He doesn’t turn the puck over in dangerous ways very often, but there are times where momentum can be lost due to a missed pass. But there’s a way he can improve without changing much about his game.” – Kyle Pereira, Last Word on Hockey
“Savoie is like a gnat in the offensive zone. He’s always buzzing around, and no matter how many times you swat at him, he won’t go away. You can’t stop Savoie from making plays in the offensive zone, you can only hope to contain him. He’ll pester you on the forecheck, create turnovers, attack the puck, and constantly keep his feet moving. Part of what makes Savoie so much fun to watch is that it seems as if he’s never content with standing around. He has to move around and keep changing the angles and lanes for the defense, slowly wearing them down until they make a mistake and he can strike.” – Matthew Somma, Smaht Scouting
“There isn’t a player in this draft class whose game thrills more than Savoie’s does. Inside the offensive zone, he’s lethal. He’s got extremely quick side-to-side hands that help him beat defenders one-on-one off of cuts. He’s got an NHL shot (which he can place with pinpoint accuracy from a bad angle and rip by a goalie clean from a distance, but he also loves to change up and slide five-hole). He’s excellent in traffic because of his craftiness and maneuverability into scoring spots. He’s a standout skater with underrated (I can’t stress this enough) explosiveness that allows him to win races and separate in transition…” – Scott Wheeler (from ‘NHL Draft ranking: Scott Wheeler’s top 64 prospects for 2022’, The Athletic, 11/3/21)
- Willingness to go to the net
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Tendency to pass when he should shoot
- Defensive game
Savoie has the tools to become an elite top-line forward in the NHL. It remains to be seen if he stays at center ice when he makes it there, but even if he’s a winger, he will still be a threat to score 90-plus points in his prime. His speed, vision, shot and playmaking abilities will make sure of that. If he gets to play with a legitimate goalscorer, the sky’s the limit for the St. Albert, AB native. Tony Ferrari recently likened him to Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which could in fact be what he becomes one day. He just won’t be drafted in the third round, that’s for sure.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 6/10
Savoie was named to the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) All-Rookie Team in 2020-21 when he played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints during the WHL shutdown. He finished with an impressive 21 goals and 38 points in 34 games.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.