The recent upsurge of AJHL talent has been well noted among NHL draft pundits. With star players like Cale Makar hearing their name called early, draft hopefuls Carter Savoie and Michael Benning, as well as former Okotoks Oiler Dylan Holloway are all looking to follow in Makar’s foot steps. In what could go down as the most successful NHL draft in AJHL history, Savoie and Benning are two key players I am keeping tabs on this season. We still have a full season of hockey ahead of us so before we get too far ahead of ourselves let me give you a deeper look into the intangibles of their game, along with what we can expect from both the players this season. First up let’s take a look at St. Albert’s own Carter Savoie:
Height/Weight: 5’9 – 170lbs
Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders
University of Denver Commit
Hometown: St.Albert, Alberta
Savoie put the entire AJHL on alert last season, dominating the rookie crop on his way to scoring 73 points in 58 games, good enough for 5thoverall in league scoring. If you’ve watched him play for any amount of time you know this didn’t happen by accident. The sky is the limit for Savoie who now enters his sophomore year with the Crusaders.
One major attribute that stands out in Savoie’s game is his elite ability to track the puck, along with maintaining a great perception of the play around him. This allows him to consistently win puck battles and feed line mates through traffic.
What makes Savoie such an elite player at a young age in the AJHL is his exceptional ability to create space for himself in all situations; with and without the puck.
His high level of intelligence is on full display post-entry when you’ll see Savoie drive the net, creating speed and separation for himself and either deliver a quality cross ice pass or get a good shot on net. The acceleration in his first few strides with the puck allows him to separate out of congested areas of the ice or evade pressure, and his stick and pucks skill makes him dangerous from anywhere in the offensive zone, especially in odd man situations. “He protects the puck so well,” said Crusaders Head Coach Adam Manah, “Whether it’s when he’s driving the puck to the net, off the rush, down low in the corners, or behind the net”.
When Savoie doesn’t have the puck his positioning and constant movement in the offensive zone creates space for not only himself but his linemates as well. Making himself a passing option at all times. This is one of the many reasons the line of Savoie, Arjun Atwal, and Will Zapernick are so dominant and allows them to maintain significant offensive pressure throughout long stretches of games.
Despite having a high-level offensive skill set, Savoie is also able to excel in all other aspects of the game. “Carter plays physical, he finishes checks, he’s good in his own end,” states Manah.
Enough cannot be said about the character this player possesses at such a young age. At just 17 years old Savoie and Benning were both added to the Crusaders leadership group when Head Coach Adam Manah decided each of the players were worthy of a letter.
“They came in last year as 16-year-olds and were two of our hardest working guys at practice day in and day out”, said Manah
“They’re very mature kids, but they love to have fun on and off the ice. I think a lot of guys feed off the energy that they bring to the rink every day, whether it’s at practice or in games.”
Carter Savoie is an elite level offensive talent, who leads by example and is mature beyond his years. He’s a player that should be on all scouts radar as a legitimate first-round pick at the NHL Draft.
Next in line for our series of profiling NHL Draft prospects in the AJHL we’ll take a look at Savoie’s Sherwood Park Crusaders teammate Michael Benning.
Photo credit: Target Photography; targetphotography.com/ajhl