Welcome to Hockey Wilderness’ coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft. We will not act like experts, nor will we act like we have watched hours of footage of these players. So instead, we have opted to rely on the opinion of people who have, and have compiled plenty of information from different publications regarding these prospects. Note: This is not a ranking, but just going down a list of interesting draft-eligible dudes without any order in mind.
Unlike past drafts, the most talented player that also happens to be 5-foot-9 is not going to be sliding down the draft and passed up by teams with top-10 selections. Matthew Savoie is impossible to ignore just because he happens to be a little bit shorter than everyone else. His talent throws away any notion of a player of his height being unable to transition his game into the professional world of hockey and we should be familiar enough with those types of prospects.
Maybe it is just because we’ve been talking about Marco Rossi for so long, but back in 2020, Rossi was ranked as high as no. 2 in some talks, and not much lower than no. 6 for others. Instead, he slipped perfectly down to the ninth overall pick for the Minnesota Wild to select him. Will it be the same for Matthew Savoie? Maybe, maybe not. But there is zero chance of him tumbling through the first round and ending up as a late-first or early-second a la Alex Debrincat.
All you need is to watch one minute of a highlight reel of this kid and want him on your favorite hockey team. A dynamic, elusive, energetic force of nature that has been able to lead the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice to being one of the top teams in the country this season.
What Scouts Are Saying
Although his production since our last rankings has dipped compared to his massive first half of the season, Savoie still displayed the same high-end tools that made him so effective early on. His skating is decent, with his crossover utilization being his strongest asset. He weaves through opposing neutral zone formations almost effortlessly and gains a lot of speed over long distances, but his first few steps lack the usual explosiveness that undersized forwards tend to display. Savoie is one of the most cerebral offensive players in this class, however, and he is very adept at identifying when to draw players in, stretch the ice, or play one-touch, give-and-go hockey. He also mans the half-wall on the power play better than anyone in this draft. Savoie’s shot and distribution ability benefit from his cerebral nature, as the forward will often pop up unmarked or gain himself an extra inch or two to work with as a result of his off-puck routes and on-puck manipulation. His work ethic and board play are complementary tools that earn him an extra loose puck or two per game as well.
Expect Savoie to see more success on the wing at the pro level, as he can falter on faceoffs and in his own zone, but the offensive upside is too promising to pass up at this point in the draft. — Hadi Kalakeche, Dobber Prospects
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 burning skater with underrated (I can’t stress this enough) explosiveness that allows him to win races, separate in transition, and put defenders onto their heels.
He’s a soft small-area passer who blends deception into his movements. And then on top of those things, he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He’s always engaged, he keeps his feet moving, he plays with a ton of energy, and he’s a reliable defensive zone player. He’s also sturdier on his feet than his frame might suggest, which helps him play between checks. I see a dynamic, high-tempo, top-six, goal-creating package. He’s an exciting talent in a draft that’s short on them. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Matthew Savoie working the defender 'window' on this even-strength tally— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) January 16, 2022
Make it 19 goals and a WHL-leading 53 points in 35 games. pic.twitter.com/ww8lmAO0Vp
Savoie is a very talented scorer. He stands out with the puck on his stick and can attack in a variety of ways. Savoie is an excellent passer, who can run a power play, hit seams at a high rate and make tough plays under duress. He has very good hands to maneuver in traffic. He has good speed to beat opponents wide and he has a shot that can score from range. Savoie lacks ideal NHL size, but he competes hard and wins a surprising amount of battles for his size. He doesn’t have incredible speed and skill for a 5-foot-9 player so he may be moved to the wing in the NHL, but regardless I see him as a very good top-six forward. — Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Savoie is a very good skater with great speed and consistently wins races to pucks. Once he has the puck on his stick he has great stick-handling ability along with exceptional vision which allows him to create for himself and his teammates. As far as Savoie’s shot, goes he has a really good one that can be effective; however, the complaint is that he does not shoot enough. His first instinct is always going to be to pass, but perhaps with the right coaching and linemates he could develop into a bit more of a scorer. — Broad Street Hockey
Would They Fit In With The Wild?
The Wild have some top-end talent on the team currently and coming through the prospect pipeline at the forward position, but there is no team that could not use more offense. Savoie provides that and the hypothetical Minnesota team behind him would be able to hypothetically shelter him and cover any defensive holes that will eventually be fixed as he gets used to the big leagues.
Can The Wild Get Them?
As it stands right now — with Minnesota owning the 24th overall pick — no, he won’t drop that far. But if the current rumors of the Ottawa Senators shopping around their seventh overall selection and eyeing up Kevin Fiala, then Savoie might certainly be an option there and with Winnipeg just right there across the border, it would provide some local certainty that they have seen him play enough.
A Minnesota Relation
We’ve already mentioned it, but considering the height, the being a top center on a very good CHL team, and general offensive domination; it’s Marco Rossi. Even though we have barely seen Rossi in a Wild sweater, we know his attributes and the surface of his game, so it’s kind of easy to say that two 5-foot-9 forwards who can stickhandle through defenses and pop in the pretty goals on individual or team efforts, are fairly similar.