Buffalo Sabres 2022 first round pick Matt Savoie is a curious case, given his overall skill-set, experience, and the Blue and Gold’s current predicament.
Lance Lysowski of Buffalo News made an interesting proclamation in his latest mailbag when he listed Matt Savoie on the Cozens line. Now, with just under three months before the puck drops in October, the lineup he listed in his mailbag is subject to change, so I’m writing this piece from a neutral perspective as opposed to supporting or critiquing it.
But before anything else, to gain more understanding as to why Lysowski listed Savoie, we need some context behind his reasoning. Lysowski wrote:
"“This is a challenging exercise because it is unclear what the Sabres plan to do with Savoie, who’s too young to spend the entire regular season in Rochester. He’s probably too advanced to return to the Western Hockey League, so I’d give him a chance to prove he’s ready for the NHL. Granato can rotate Savoie in and out of the lineup based on the opponent.” – via Buffalo News"
Source: Buffalo Sabres mailbag: Sorting through glaring roster questions after free agency by Lance Lysowski, BuffaloNews.com
First off, Lysowski is absolutely right regarding Savoie, as he showed us during the WHL Playoffs last season that he’s well above the talent in the junior leagues. Ideally, the AHL would be an option, but thanks to the current agreement, he is ineligible to play in the league unless it’s for a limited “conditioning assignment,” or when the WHL season ends.
Should Matt Savoie start the 2023-24 season with the Buffalo Sabres?
From my perspective, this is not a yes or no question, and while I recently listed three reasons why Savoie could earn a spot, there are several reasons why he may not be ready. During his two-game cameo in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs, Savoie showed us he lacked strength, and he basically ended each game with a clean slate of stats in both outings.
During the 2022 Prospects Challenge, Savoie was one of the better players on the ice, but even when the preseason rolled around, he predictably didn’t look ready for the NHL level. However, despite his so-so play in the pro ranks, we also shouldn’t rule out the possibility of him playing in the NHL to kickoff the season.
It will, and should, come down to how well he plays in camp, in the preseason, and in comparison to other prospects vying for a spot on the Buffalo Sabres. We must also consider the Blue and Gold’s current state at forward, as they could always sign or trade for one, as I also outlined in an earlier piece.
In a worst-case scenario, we will see Savoie back in the WHL with 2023 first round pick, Zach Benson. And the dynamic duo can dominate and lead the Wenatchee Wild (formerly the Winnipeg Ice) to a WHL Championship and perhaps even a Memorial Cup!