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Getting to Know Matthew Savoie and the Top Four NHL Draft Prospects

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The 2022 Memorial Cup concluded on Tuesday night with the Saint John Sea Dogs taking home the trophy and now the next big event on the hockey calendar is the 2022 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec on July 7th-8th which is now under a week away. 

In part one of my two-part article, I profiled the players ranked #10-#5 on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings list of the top North American skaters heading into this year’s draft, and in part two, I look at the players ranked #4-#1 starting with; 

#4 Matthew Savoie 

Height: 5’9″ 

Weight: 179 lbs

Position: Center

Matthew Savoie hails from Saint Albert, Alberta, the same hometown as Matt Benning, Kirby Dach, Nick Holden, Tyson Jost, Mark Messier, Ian Mitchell, and my favourite NHL player, Colton Parayko, among others. 

Savoie also has an older brother, Carter, who plays at the University of Denver and is a 2020 fourth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers

Along with playing center, Savoie can also play on the left-wing, making him a versatile forward. He has been compared to players such as Brayden Point and Alex Debrincat due to his size, standing at only 5’9″ Savoie is what’s considered in the NHL a small and speedy forward. Despite being small in stature, Savoie doesn’t let it deter him from being a physical player as he finishes his checks any chance he gets. 

Savoie was the first overall pick by the then Kootenay, now Winnipeg Ice in the 2019 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft

In his career with the Ice so far, Savoie has had 35 goals and 62 assists for 97 points in 87 career games played over two seasons. 

At the scouting combine, Savoie led all 36 Canadian Hockey League skaters in the 30m Forward With Puck, Weave Agility With Puck, Transition Agility and Reaction With Puck drills.

Matthew Savoie is projected to go fourth or fifth overall or possibly sooner if a team feels that they are in need of a potential top-pair defenseman. 

#3 Cutter Gauthier

Height: 6’3″ 

Weight: 201 lbs

Position: Center/Left wing 

Cutter Gauthier comes from a hockey family as his father, Sean Gauthier was a minor league goaltender who played in one NHL game for the San Jose Sharks and ended his career in Sweden playing for Skelleftea which is why when you look at Cutter’s bio it says that his hometown is Skelleftea, Sweden but he doesn’t have a Swedish name. The story behind his name is an interesting one, Gauthier told The Hockey News that; 

“My grandma from my mom’s side actually found it in a Swedish cookbook. They found ‘Cutter’ and stuck with it. I’m glad I have it. It’s pretty unique.”

Then when Gauthier was just two years old, he and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, and that’s where Gauthier discovered his love of hockey, and grew up in the local rinks alongside Matthew Knies, who is a prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Josh Doan, who is the son of former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan and currently a prospect with his dad’s former team. 

At the age of 10, Gauthier left Arizona for Michigan to further his hockey career and began playing for the Honeybaked program until he was old enough to earn a spot on the U.S. National Team Development Program roster. 

This past season, Gauthier finished second on the USNTDP U-18 team with 65 points (34 goals and 31 assists) in 54 games played and was a +33. 

Some scouts think that Gauthier could potentially crack the roster of whichever team drafts him in the 2022-23 season but he is currently committed to Boston College so Gauthier may decide that he wants to honour his commitment to them before becoming an NHLer. 

Gauthier is projected as a mid to late first-round pick in most mock drafts and the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, and Montreal Canadiens all have multiple first-round picks so one of those three teams are a likely destination for Gauthier. 

#2 Logan Cooley

Height: 5’10” 

Weight: 181 lbs

Position: Center

Like Cutter Gauthier, Logan Cooley also plays for the U.S. National Team Development Program and is also committed to playing NCAA hockey next season, in Cooley’s case, The University of Minnesota. 

Cooley is described by many scouts as an all-around offensive threat with explosive skating, great hands and playmaking ability, and exceptional puck handling skills.

 There was even talk in the hockey circles when Shane Wright, who I will be profiling next, was struggling earlier this season that Cooley might actually be the first overall pick in this year’s draft. 

In 82 games this season with the USNTDP, the same as if he was playing a full NHL schedule, Cooley had 43 goals and 79 assists for 122 points along with 126 penalty minutes and a +/- rating of +62. 

Cooley has received comparisons to Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Toews, and Mitch Marner due to his small stature and is projected to be the first player selected in next week’s draft behind Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky

#1 Shane Wright

Height: 6’0″ 

Weight: 198 lbs

Position: Center

Shane Wright has been the consensus No. 1 pick for this year’s draft long before this year and is currently projected as No. 1 by 13 different media outlets including; Elite Prospects, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Craig Button, and Rogers Sportsnet, among others. 

Wright was granted exceptional status by the Ontario Hockey League for the 2019-20 season becoming just the sixth player to receive the honour and then was drafted first overall by the Kingston Frontenacs in the 2019 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft.

 On September 20, 2019, Wright made his OHL debut as a 15-year-old and a week later, he scored his first OHL goal in a 4-1 loss to the Oshawa Generals

On December 30, 2019, Kingston named Wright as an alternate captain, making him the youngest team captain in Canadian Hockey League history. 

Wright finished his rookie season with the Frontenacs with 66 points in 58 games played and was named the winner of the Emms Family Award, which is the OHL’s Rookie of the Year award. 

Wright didn’t play hockey for nearly a year during what should have been the 2020-21 season as it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, during the OHL’s break, Wright captained Team Canada to a Gold Medal over Russia at the 2021 IIHF World U18 championships and finished the tournament with 14 points, which ranked second in tournament scoring.  

Upon returning to Kingston for the 2021-22 season, Wright was named captain of the Frontenacs on October 8, 2021, making him the youngest captain in OHL history. 

Wright finished this season with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games played. 

While Wright is most likely going to be the first player to hear his name called next Thursday night, in recent days there have been rumours swirling that the Canadiens may be leaning towards Slovakian left-winger Juraj Slafkovsky including TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranking Slafkovsky first instead of Wright in his final draft rankings earlier this week

So there you have it, the top 10 North American skaters as ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.

 This could be one of the most unpredictable drafts in years and you can catch all the action beginning with round one on Thursday, July 7, at 7 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. CT. on ESPN and ESPN+ in the United States and Sportsnet, TVA Sports, and SN Now in Canada and rounds two through seven kick off bright and early on Friday, July 8, at 11 a.m. ET/ 10 a.m. CT. on NHL Network and ESPN+ in the U.S. and all the same channels as round one in Canada. 

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