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Red Wings Draft Prospectus: Could Matthew Savoie Be Detroit’s Pick at No. 8?

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The first round of the NHL entry draft is to take place on Thursday, July 7 in Montreal. At 8th overall, the Detroit Red Wings will be making their first-round selection. Based on talking to scouts, GMs and other hockey people, as well as studying the mock drafts of top NHL draft experts, Detroit Hockey Now is looking at players who could potentially be Detroit’s selection. Today, we look at Winnipeg Ice center Matthew Savoie. 

Matt Savoie is a center who intrigues with his quick release, and scoring prowess. Might he the Red Wings choice at #8?

Big Impact

A member of the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL, Savoie enjoyed over a point-per-game season with 90 points (35-55) in 65 games. In the postseason, he had 12 points (6-6) in 10 games. The 18-year-old forward can certainly score goals, and provide a punch down the middle Detroit hasn’t enjoyed in some time. Winnipeg fell to Red Wings prospect Sebastian Cossa’s Edmonton Oil Kings in the third round, while Savoie fell to injury, ending his playoff.

Savoie could be the answer to many of Detroit’s offensive woes.

Why Might The Red Wings Select Savoie?

As written with Conor Geekie, the Red Wings need a future second or first line center. Savoie may be “undersized” in terms of his 5-9 frame, but he doesn’t play small. Across the board, here are the rankings from some of the draft experts:

McKenzie’s rankings often sync up with the real time draft, but the interesting note here is that Savoie pops up as high as sixth here. But the knock on him (which we’ll get to below) is going to be his size. This is an argument that doesn’t hold the weight it once did pre-salary cap era, but one that often scares some organizational managers away.

Savoie, though, has so many skills that Yzerman covets beyond just top notch offensive skill. His hockey IQ is high, and if he’s not scoring goals, he’s setting them up. Beyond that as Detroit’s general manager has pointed out before, Savoie is growing into his body and is still just a teenager. He will inevitably bulk up and along with the skillset, should become a formidable center for any team that chooses to draft him.

Why Won’t The Red Wings Select Savoie?

So begins the great debate of whether a shorter skater means a bigger liability. Cole Caufield’s drop during the 2019 NHL draft was likened to his stature, albeit, a couple inches shorter than Savoie at 5’7.  Savoie has dropped on draft boards from the end of 2021, however, much of that could be attributed to other players rocketing up the board (think Cutter Gauthier).

It’s also really up to Yzerman, who at 5’10, might have something to say about the knocks on height for a centerman. It wouldn’t be height that would dissuade Yzerman, in fact. It would come down to the best fit and best player available. Much like previous drafts, the Red Wings will have a slew of choices at #8. They might even have a few players slip their way.

And yet, does anyone really know what Yzerman will do? When asked that very question, Yzerman answered with a smile and coy answer.

“That’s a really good question,” Yzerman said about having to choose between three players from different positions. “I’m trying to answer that without answering it, and I don’t have an answer for you. So I’m not gonna answer it. That’s a great question and that could very well come up. I’ll answer it after that fact. How’s that?”

Savoie certainly grades out. He has high end skill, can put the puck in the net, and put guys in positions to do the same. If there at eight, he certainly seems like one of the top candidates to go to Detroit, even though he doesn’t follow in the same footsteps of Yzerman’s previous first three picks–European players.

Once upon a time, the Red Wings drafted a young scoring center who topped out at just an inch taller than Savoie. It was a fellow named Yzerman and that worked out to be not bad.

It certainly might be worth a shot again.

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