Matthew Savoie of the Northern Alberta Xtreme skates on Sunday January 21, 2018 at the John Reid Memorial Hockey Tournament in St. Albert, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Kueber

Matthew Savoie drawing lofty hockey comparisons even at the age of 14

He’s only 14 but already Matthew Savoie is drawing comparisons to the likes of Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon.

Trouble is, Savoie isn’t eligible for the WHL bantam draft until May 2019 and even then would be allowed to play just five games during the 2019-20 campaign. That has Savoie’s family considering whether to apply for exceptional status.

If granted, Savoie could play the entire 2019-20 season.

“There’s been some talk about it,” said Savoie’s father, Scott.

Scott Savoie is well aware of the risks associated with allowing his son to move away from home and play in the WHL as a 15-year-old. But there’s also the consideration of Matthew Savoie’s development.

“We still want to challenge him in the game,” Scott Savoie said. “So depending on what his skill level is, if that’s the next level he needs to get to to be challenged, then you have to take that into account as well.”

The native of St. Albert, Alta., began playing bantam hockey as a 12-year-old last season, competing against 13- and 14-year-olds. He’s currently in his second year at the level, having recorded 20 goals and 61 points in 19 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme.

His average of 3.2 points per game is tied for first in the CCSHL Bantam Prep Division.

Brent Parker, a former Regina Pats executive now serving as the head western Canadian scout for ISS Hockey, feels Savoie might’ve been a top-five selection at last year’s Western Hockey League draft and would certainly go first overall this year if eligible.

“Because of the way he skates I hate using Sidney Crosby,” Parker said. “But he kind of plays the same type of style where he’s so competitive, fights for pucks and is hard on his stick.

“I remember watching Nathan MacKinnon in bantam with Shattuck St. Mary’s, and there’s a little bit of that. I don’t think he’s quite as explosive a skater as MacKinnon, but he’s an awful good skater.”

But the WHL isn’t Savoie’s only option. He could follow his older brother, 15-year-old Carter Savoie, and take the college route. The older Savoie has committed to the University of Denver in November despite being selected by Regina in the 2017 WHL draft.

The Canadian Hockey League has granted exceptional status sparingly.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey league have given it to just one player (Joe Veleno) while the Ontario Hockey League has awarded the distinction to four players, including Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

The WHL has never had done so.

“If they apply for it, I’d be shocked if they didn’t get it,” Parker said. “He’s good enough.

“You watch the way he plays and how hard he competes. He’s dynamic when he’s got the puck on his stick and yet he works hard to get back and play the game at the other end too – there’s just not much to not like about the way he plays.”

One concern the family has about requesting for exceptional status is the social aspect. Savoie would face some players who are five years older than him but his coach, Tyrel Spitzer, doesn’t see that as an issue.

“I would say he’s a little bit more advanced than the majority of kids his age,” said Spitzer. “Maybe part of that has to do with always playing up (a level) and being around that and seeing that.”

Savoie is also ahead of the curve off the ice. The Grade 8 student is already working on Grade 9 classes, which he’s expected to wrap up before Christmas.

The five-foot-eight, 150-pound forward tries to model his game after McDavid and is continually looking to improve.

“My stick skills and shot at this point and my communication as well,” Savoie said regarding the areas he’s looking to get better in.

Playing against older talent has required him to be more focused.

“It’s a lot more challenging and it makes you work harder,” he said. “Put more effort in.”

Savoie’s ability to successfully make the jump to midget hockey — and play against 17-year-olds — next season will help the family determine whether to apply for exceptional status.

“If he’s one of the top players there then it’s always a good measuring stick,” said family advisor Kevin Epp. “When you see kids that are a year ahead of you who’re going to go play major junior, if you’re as good as them and you’re younger, then it’s kind of like, ‘OK well, if there going to play in the WHL, why wouldn’t I?’ “

Just Posted

Schizophrenia a misunderstood illness, an Alberta expert says

Schizophrenia Society of Alberta campaign kickoff features TSN’s Michael Landsberg in Central Alberta

WATCH: Collecting coats and donations from drivers in Red Deer

Central Albertans made donations to keep children warm and neighbourhoods safe from… Continue reading

PHOTO: Fall Harvest Festival in Red Deer’s West Park

The West Park Community Association hosted the Fall Harvest Festival near West… Continue reading

Man dies in Hwy 2 collision near Ponoka

A 46-year-old man is dead following a three-vehicle collision on Hwy 2… Continue reading

Canyon Ski Resort aiming to open Nov. 10

The finishing touches are being put on Canyon Ski Resort trails just… Continue reading

WATCH: Blackfalds Fire teaches families about fire safety

An open house was held Saturday in support of Fire Prevention Week

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Halifax smoking ban begins today; city announces several new smoking areas

Halifax’s sweeping smoking ban begins today, two days before recreational cannabis is… Continue reading

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

TORONTO — The organization behind Canada’s Heritage Minutes says provincial education systems… Continue reading

Five things about what’s legal and what’s not in Canada’s new pot law

OTTAWA — Canada’s new law legalizing recreational cannabis goes into force on… Continue reading

Most Read