The Montreal Canadiens have quite a few picks in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Barring any trades, they’ll pick seven times in the first three rounds, and another seven from round four until the draft ends. We’ve covered a lot of names that should be coming off the board in those first three rounds, but we also want to profile some potential later-round gems that could be interesting targets for the Habs.
Enter Samuel Savoie. A product of the Dieppe/Moncton minor hockey system, he was selected by Gatineau fourth overall in the 2020 QMJHL Draft. Like many, he had a very short rookie season due to to the pandemic, but did see a bump in his production for 2021-22.
Birthplace: Dieppe, New Brunswick
Date of birth: March 25, 2004
Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
It wasn’t a big bump, as he only mustered 33 points in 64 games with Gatineau this season. It should be noted that nobody on that squad was really lighting it up, as they had not a single player reach or eclipse the point-per-game mark on the year. As a lower scoring team, it isn’t all that concerning that their draft-eligible players didn’t fill the net.
It remains a valid concern, and one that definitely doesn’t help vault a player up draft boards. The result, when it comes to Savoie, is a general consensus that he won’t be coming off the board until the fourth, possibly even the fifth round. So let’s take a look at why he could offer a ton of value to an NHL team.
First, when you talk about players with a high motor, Savoie is the benchmark. He’s relentless in puck pursuit, is extremely physical to that end, and has a seemingly bottomless gas tank. Despite being only 5’10”, he is a very solid 190 pounds, and is incredibly strong in puck battles.
His skating can also wow at times. His favourite way to generate offence is by driving the net, and he has the mechanics as well as the top-end speed to do it on the rush. When he doesn’t get the chance to do it on the rush, he’ll just bully his way there anyway.
He loves to chirp, and has a nasty side to his game that draws some comparisons to Andrew Shaw. He plays on the edge, but manages to do so without hurting his team, only racking up 45 penalty minutes in 64 contests last season.
What is driving him down draft boards, however, is that limited offensive upside. He doesn’t have elite hockey sense, and while he is a capable passer, it isn’t often that he threads the needle to set up his teammates. He isn’t a high-level playmaker at the Junior level, and doesn’t project as one when he’s a professional.
Part of the problem is that he relies too heavily on his physicality. The old-school dump-and-chase method is his preferred way to get into the offensive zone, and while his hellacious puck-retrieval game helps him with that, it limits what he can create. I’d love to see him use his skating a little more to carry the puck in and work from there.
His shot is fine, but it is also not his preferred method of getting things done. He likes his aforementioned net-drives, but at the NHL level he’d need to be a little more versatile in how he can get the puck to the net. If he can improve his shooting just enough to threaten a little more from the outside, it would help him a lot at the next level.
An elite scorer he is not, but much of what he does will translate at the next level. He projects as an excellent bottom-six checking forward, and he won’t take a major investment to get him on your roster.
Elite Prospects: #85
Hockey Prospect: #102
Bob McKenzie (TSN): N/R
NHL Central Scouting: #90 (NA Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): N/R
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): N/R
When I watched Savoie this season, I saw a bigger, more physical version of Paul Byron. I talked to EOTP alumni and Elite Prospects lead scout David St-Louis about Savoie, and he called him a “must-draft.” The belief is that he has a very strong probability of becoming an effective bottom-six NHL player, with the speed and tenacity to play up in the lineup when needed.
When you’re talking about a player who is likely to be available as late as the fourth or fifth round, I think the tag of must-draft is fair to apply here. You are not remotely guaranteed an NHL player in these rounds, and Savoie seems about as sure a bet as any to reach that bottom-six checking role projection in the NHL. There’s a lot of value in using a fourth-rounder on him, of which the Montreal Canadiens hold three.
I would argue that with the success they had picking Paul Byron up off waivers, drafting a potential future version of him with a late pick is an excellent idea.