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The Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Carter Savoie’s 2022-23 Season Review

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Bruce Curlock
1 year ago
Every organization has a prospect that challenges the development model of the team. A player who, on his own, or in combination with the coaching staff and development team, follows a path that leads to wasted development time.
There can be a myriad of reasons for this type of situation. The stubbornness of a player. The stubbornness of the organization. Injuries are often a big part of these situations.
Sometimes the plan for a player developed by him and the team just wasn’t the right one. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, the prospect that fits this mould in 2022-23 was Carter Savoie, the local Edmonton kid who had a stellar collegiate career after obliterating the AJHL for two years. Now, he’s had a rookie pro season I am certain he would like to forget.
He started the year suffering a bad ankle/knee injury at the prospect tournament in Penticton.  He missed training camp and started his pro career two weeks late. He was healthy scratched, played mostly fourth-line minutes and saw limited powerplay time.
Then was injured twice more to finish the season, including another lower-body injury that caused him to miss almost a month. No question that I would want to forget that season if I were Savoie, however, I hope he doesn’t and I hope the teams don’t.
I am pretty certain neither will and heading into next season, the player and the organization should craft a new development plan that both are committed to and see what Carter Savoie can do as a professional hockey player.

What Did I See This Year

Savoie’s season never really did get going as he only played 44 games mostly due to injury and was healthy scratched early on. In the end, he finished with eight goals, three assists and 11 points in 44 games to go along with 55 shots on goal shooting 14.5 percent. The shooting percentage was really the only glimmer of good news in a tough season for Savoie.
As mentioned with the other rookie pros, Savoie struggled to gain traction with the coaching staff early on. But like the other prospects, he did see a bit more time in the second half of the season and was moved up the lineup. However, unlike his rookie teammates, Savoie never really took advantage of the situation presented to him by the coaches.
This led to Savoie having the poorest year of the four rookie forwards and lots of questions moving forward. This is not to say Savoie didn’t display some skills in moments that showed he belonged. He just didn’t do it consistently enough in-game and through the season. Whatever the development goals are for Savoie this year, it all begins with the consistency of play because when it is there, he can impact the game.

The Shot That Got Him Drafted

No question that the primary reason that Carter Savoie was drafted was his ability to shoot the puck. The puck comes off his stick very quickly at a high rate of velocity. He has minimal backswing in it and he gives very few queues to a goalie that the puck is coming.
No question: he’s a goal scorer. In Bakersfield, the shot was on display when he played like this clip below.

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If Savoie can work to be more consistent and get into good spots to shoot the puck, he will score at this level with his release.
More encouraging for me this year was the other way Savoie scored most of his goals: by going to the net. He’s not the biggest player in the world, but he often could be found celebrating scoring a goal from five feet in front of the net. I like this for two reasons. First, a high percentage of goals in professional hockey are scored from that little area around the front of the net, so being there is key. Second, Savoie wasn’t afraid to get into a high battle area and engage players for the puck. This desire to compete for the puck is a great sign.

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None of these goals shows him locked in mortal combat with a player to get a puck and put it home. However, for a smaller, high-skill player in his rookie season, Carter Savoie playing inside the slot is a very good sign.

The Puck Skills Are Alright

As with most players who have dynamic abilities, other traits often do not get discussed and Savoie is no different. I really like his puck skills and he’s creative in escaping checks with the puck. His hands are very quick allowing him to process how to create space very quickly. Look at this clip of Savoie winning a puck battle in an awkward position and then freeing himself up for a shot.

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Here is another clip with Savoie winning the puck off a faceoff with great stick work and then creating a shooting chance for a teammate.

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His hands are also how he forechecks. Savoie is never going to wow anyone with a massive hit along the boards that frees up the puck for possession, but he’s very effective in using his stick when he is engaged in battles for the puck.

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In summary, Savoie’s stick skills are really his whole game outside of shooting. He is very effective in tight quarters with the puck on his stick often setting up teammates for scoring chances as well as himself and he uses his stick really well to forecheck.
Something some fans are going to find frustrating, especially those that ran Jordan Eberle out of town, it’s a harder way to forecheck but he does it well. When he gets bigger and stronger, he can add the physical forecheck to his game more consistently.

Commitment To The Cause

If you want to see a clip that sums up Carter Savoie’s year in a nutshell, see below. A very encouraging first half of a shift followed by some less than spectacular work on the back half of the shift costing the Condors a goal against.

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I will never scapegoat a coach for wanting to teach a young player a lesson at this moment. No question it is great to highlight the first part of the shift, however, to finish a shift off like that is going to cause heartburn for a coach trying to win games. Here is another example of what plagued Savoie all year.

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Just too much lack of compete here. Cheating for offence, looping back on transition plays instead of stop-start explosive skating, not hard enough on the puck or the player he is checking. It would be really hard for a coach to put a player out there after watching this the next morning in a video session.
Here is another clip this time on the forecheck. Eventually, he wins the puck, but again, look at the looping in his skating. A stop-start transition would be so much better. He could have won this puck in the first instance and the Condors might be in a better position.

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It’s not that he doesn’t have hard hockey in him, we just do not see it enough. Look at this shift below. I really think he lets the opposition off the hook on many shifts because he can be tough to play against when he wants to be.

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What’s The Plan?

As with most rookie professionals, Savoie needs to get into the gym and get stronger. He’s not a big player, but he does have a stocky build that does seem to work for him. Savoie needs to find that mental element to his game to be tough to play against on every shift of every game in every zone no matter whether he has the puck or not. There is a very good professional player here if he wants to be, but he just needs to commit to it more often.
That’s all for this week folks. As always you can yell at me here or on Twitter at the handle @bcurlock.

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