The Buffalo Sabres have drafted and developed a number of youngsters currently playing in the NHL (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Dylan Cozens), and the club under former GM Jason Botterill and current GM Kevyn Adams have been able to replenish the organization with young prospects. Throughout the month of August and leading into training camp next month, we will rank the club’s top prospects over the upcoming weeks based on their progress in either the NCAA, CHL, Europe, ECHL, or AHL and their potential to make the Sabres roster and make a contribution in the future. Players are eligible for the list if they have not played more than 40 NHL games and are 25 years old or younger:
#3 Matthew Savoie
The Sabres have big plans for their 2022 top pick, but it is less a question of if he will be part of their roster, and more a question of when. The St. Albert, AB native was selected ninth overall at the draft in Montreal after playing youth hockey in Northern Alberta, playing part-time in the AJHL and USHL during the pandemic shutdown of the WHL in 2020-21 and after scoring 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists) for the Winnipeg Ice.
The 19-year-old returned to junior last season and set career highs in goals (38), assists (57) and points (95), and playoff scoring with 29 points.
— Duane Steinel (@DuaneS39) September 16, 2023
Hockey Prospect’s Black Book describes Savoie as a “dynamic, dual-threat center, who is physically one of the strongest and most powerful players per pound in the 2022 Draft. He might not look very big, but we’ve seen Savoie handle much heavier and older players than himself during physical battles and confrontations. He plays with an edge, he plays a competitive two-way game, and it gives him a lot of substance to go with a versatile skill set.”
A January 1st birthdate is going to be an issue this season since Savoie does not qualify to play in the American Hockey League. After two straight 90-point seasons in junior, going back for another WHL campaign may not be constructive. The Sabres have requested a waiver to allow Savoie to play in Rochester, but that is likely not to be granted due to the CHL-NHL agreement.
Savoie likely will have the inside track on filling Jack Quinn’s spot on the Sabres if he is up to the challenge of playing in the NHL this season, but if he struggles in training camp, it is possible that Buffalo will keep him, allow to practice with the club, play with the Amerks on conditioning stints and loan him out to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in December before making a decision in January.