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Did NHL Combine Help Flyers Decision on Dynamic Matt Savoie?

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Matthew Savoie, Philadelphia Flyers
Matthew Savoie (left) and Winnipeg Ice teammate Conor Geekie answer questions at the NHL Combine.

The NHL’s Combine ended Saturday, and the Philadelphia Flyers will now compare notes and get serious about the player they will select with the No. 5 overall pick in next month’s draft.

Dynamic center Matt Savoie is among the players the Flyers will consider in the first round. Unfortunately, aside from an interview, the Flyers did not learn much more about Savoie because he was unable to take part in the testing portion of the combine.

But they have countless hours of video on a player who has the speed and the smarts to trigger an offense.

Savoie injured his shoulder in the Western Hockey League playoffs last month. Surgery was not required, but he did not participate in the fitness testing over the weekend because of the injury.

“I’m feeling much better,” he told reporters in Buffalo. “I got out of the sling a couple days ago and I’m feeling good. The movement has been much better, and I’m looking to to get back on the ice in the next couple of weeks.”

He said teams wanted to know about the injury during the combine’s interviews. He interviewed with 17 teams.

‘No concern’

“They have questions, curiosities about what the injury was and what happened,” he said, “but it’s been no concern.”

The speedy and cerebral Savoie led Winnipeg with 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists) in 65 regular-season games. He missed the last three games of the Western Hockey League playoffs, which was won by Edmonton.

Savoie, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder who played in the WHL when he was 15, said he tries to model his game after Tampa Bay star Brayden Point.

“He’s a smaller guy who likes to possess the puck. He’s fast, and he plays the game the right way,” Savoie said.

Savoie has played both center and wing, and says he feels just as comfortable at either position.

What does he have to do to be an impact NHL player?

“Continue to have a a really high work ethic,” said Savoie, whose brother, Carter, a left winger, starred at the University of Denver and was drafted in the fourth round by Edmonton in 2020. “Continue to love being around the rink. I have confidence in my play and ability, and I’m just looking forward to making that jump (some day).”

At Winnipeg, Savoie has been coached by James Patrick, a former NHL player who is Nolan Patrick’s uncle. James Patrick played 21 seasons in the NHL after being selected No. 9 overall by the Rangers in 1981.

Big influence

Patrick has “definitely had a huge impact” on him, Savoie said. “He’s a true pro. He definitely teaches you a lot in all three zones. He’s a strict coach. He likes to ask a lot of his players. I appreciate that. I like a guy who wants me to be better, who pushes me to be my absolute best.”

During interviews, Savoie — who is nicknamed “Savs” — said he tried to show NHL executives that hockey is his passion, his life.

“Been around the game since I was two or three years old. Always loved it. Always grown up around it,” he said.

If the Philadelphia Flyers don’t select Savoie, it wouldn’t be surprising if they took one of the righthanded defensemen available — Simon Nemec or David Jiricek — or right winger Joakim Kemell. Left winger Cutter Gautheir is also in the mix.

During his media availability, Savoie was interviewed next to his Winnipeg teammate, Conor Geekie, a 6-3, 196-pound center who had 70 points and 24 goals last season. He is projected to be drafted in the middle or latter part of the first round.

Savoie called Geekie a big strong player who controls the game by the way he possesses the puck.

Geekie said Savoie was “probably the fastest player I’ve ever played with. “Sometimes I even get lost trying to find him for a pass. Super-good speed. I think our abilities definitely really intertwine with each other and that’s what makes us so good together.”

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Superunoriginal

The poor numbers for the Flyers reflect a bevy of needs. No one player can save a team, and the Flyers simply have too many holes. Of all the players available between 4 and 9, Savoie does the best job of addressing the most needs. Speed, offense, playmaking, strong on power play, high hockey IQ, and brings energy/passion. Curious as to his performance in shoot-outs.

Were he 6’0″, he’d be contending with Wright for the #1 overall pick. That he isn’t is why the Flyers have a chance at him. I think it’s a no-brainer based on the current roster’s performance, but given that the Flyers didn’t offer McClennon a contract, the implication is that after doing due diligence in drafting him, they did due research on the team as a whole. I’m guessing they saw him as a product of Savoie and Geekie’s playmaking (not dissimilar from how the Flyers were very high on Cam York over Caufield for similar reasons).

I thought the Flyers might bite on Jiricek. Offering Ethan Samson a contract reduces the need for another RHD with size–but they’re always nice to have (especially ones projected to be RHD). This is where the uncertainty of Ellis really hurts the organization’s development strategy. Flyers simply do not have anyone of Savoie’s style and caliber in the system. Figured Frost was that guy (speed and putting up numbers similar to Giroux in CHL), but he’s got a mountain to climb.

John

Of course they will pick him. They have a stellar track record of using high draft picks on injured skaters.

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