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NHL Prospect Report

WHL Stock Watch: Matthew Savoie thriving with Moose Jaw Warriors

February was a good month for the WHL. 

Some of the league's biggest stars added their highlight reel and took another step in their games. Look no further than the scorching Conor Geekie, Jagger Firkus' continued domination, or Gavin McKenna strengthening his argument as the WHL's best forward – in his draft-minus-two season. 

As we enter the final weeks of the season, here are a handful of the hottest players in the league, and a couple to keep an eye on down the stretch. 

Stock Rising 📈

Matthew Savoie, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (Buffalo Sabres)

The Moose Jaw Warriors just swept their six-game U.S. Division trip, punctuated with a 4-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks, the No. 5-rank team in the CHL

In those games, Matthew Savoie was Moose Jaw's engine up front, which has been the story since he joined the team in January. He's racked up 32 points in 17 games with the Warriors, going pointless just once. And just two of his points are secondary assists. 

With both Wenatchee and Moose Jaw, Savoie has upped his game. It's not just the increase in 5-on-5 entries or shots, but the quality of the ways he's creating. He's attacking the middle more than last season, both off the rush and from the cycle. His defensive stick work looks among the WHL's elite now. He gets his stick on just about pass and shot near him, and instantly turns those plays into offence. 

Savoie's the WHL's leading primary point per game scorer in both all-situations (1.79) and even-strength (1.07). With improvements this season, he's awfully close to being NHL-ready. 

Tyson Jugnauth, D, Portland Winterhawks (Seattle Kraken)

The NCAA wasn't working out for Tyson Jugnauth. He improved in his time with Wisconsin, but never really found his offensive touch. So, he packed up and headed to the WHL in December and hasn't looked back. 

Jugnauth's currently the WHL's even-strength point-per-game leader among defencemen, and it's not hard to see why. He's involved in just every play on the ice. He makes clean, high-value escapes off retrievals, finds the cross-ice or inside breakout pass, joins every rush, and has the skill to manipulate opponents to create lanes and wire shots off the catch for chances. 

As a draft-plus-two defenceman, WHL success is required, but he's surpassed expectations. It's time to put him back on the radar. 

Emmitt Finnie, C/W, Kamloops Blazers (Detroit Red Wings)

In the 2023 NHL Draft Guide, we noted Emmitt Finnie as a breakout candidate. The Detroit Red Wings saw it similarly, The justification was simple enough: He's a smart, hard-working player who produced 15 points in 11 games when given a bigger role in December, and then was one of Kamloops' best players through the first two rounds of the playoffs. 

As the season winds down, it's safe to say that Finnie had his breakout season. The 6-foot-1 forward will likely finish around a point per game, driven by 30 points in his 20 outings. 

Finnie's a battler, generating much of his offence from forcing turnovers, winning battles down low, attacking the interior, and creating chaos around the net. A crafty – and improving – transition game built around inside attacks and give-and-goes perfectly complements his strengths. 

Though Finnie's still a long-term projection, his upward development and style of play match those of many NHL third- and fourth-line forwards before him. Expect a strong finish to the season. 

Atley Calvert, C/RW, Moose Jaw Warriors (Free Agent)

The WHL's reigning player of the month, Atley Calvert, scored a league-leading 27 points in February, forming a dynamic duo with Savoie. Becoming one of the WHL's top offenisve talents has taken some time, but he caught our attention in his draft year, 2022, with his flashes of exciting playmaking and shooting. 

Calvert's certainly no passenger on his line, but Savoie's speed and off-puck game has opened more playmaking opportunities for Calvert. He slips pucks through opponents, finds Savoie just as he pops into space, and has assembled one of the WHL's best collections of highlight reel passes. Opponents struggle to keep up his quick-possession passes and deception, and he's also a skilled in-tight finisher. 

While Calvert's not an NHL draft pick, he's eligible to be signed by any team. He was an unintentional oversight in our CHL Free Agency Guide, but looks like one of the most pro-capable scorers in this year's class. It's been a blast watching him steadily improve.  

Honourable Mentions: Conor Geekie (Arizona Coyotes), Reid Dyck (Boston Bruins), Parker Bell (Calgary Flames), Gracyn Sawchyn (Florida Panthers), Carter Sotheran (Philadelphia Flyers), Hiroki Gojsic (2024 NHL Draft), Cameron Schmidt (2025 NHL Draft), Gavin McKenna (2026 NHL Draft). 

Stock Steady ↔️

Jakub Dvořák, D, Swift Current Broncos (Los Angeles Kings)

After a midseason move to the WHL and Swift Current's deadline additions, Jakub Dvořák became one of the players to watch in the second half. 

So far, Dvořák's holding the line. He's slid into a middle-pairing role with impacts on both special teams. His reads – especially his activation, desire to create on breakouts, and rush defence – have driven his effectiveness, and he's even shown flashes of more physicality than previous. 

Awkwardness in Dvořák's game remains. His hands and feet don't always keep up his brain, leading to memorable gaffes and breakdowns. He's still figuring out the high-speed close-outs and check identification of the North American game, too. 

In recent weeks, Dvořák's production is trending up and his daring with the puck with it. He remains a long-term projection, but the move to the WHL liked like the right one – lots of minutes and opportunity to develop his puck skills and defence.

Since writing this, though, Dvořák has returned home to Czechia to attend to a personal matter. We wish him the best in this time.

Stock Falling 📉

Vojtect Port, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (Anaheim Ducks)

When we ranked Vojtech Port as the 91st-best prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft, it was a bet on mobility, high-end rush defence, activation, and flashes of skill. Emphasis on that latter part. He was an exciting prospect, but clearly a long-term project. 

As the regular season winds down, Port has yet to build off the promise he showed last season with the puck. The intelligence is still there, but his skill level fails him at times. He's quicker to offload the puck in transition leading to influx in turnovers and missed opportunities, especially on retrievals. The exciting plays have been fewer in my viewings compared to last season. 

The upside remains, but the projections looks more unclear. 

On the flip side, Port missed two months of action due to injury, and he played his best hockey of the season in the preceding weeks. He's still one of the WHL's best rush defenders, and he's still the ever-valuable 6-foot-2 right-shot defenceman. Moose Jaw's poised for a deep playoff run, so his season is likely far from over. 

Next season, he'll return to the WHL with a bigger role on a talented Warriors squad. 

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Elite Prospects' January top 64 prospects 2024 NHL Draft ranking
Elite Prospects' January top 64 prospects 2024 NHL Draft ranking
This article is about:
NHL Prospects NHL Prospect Report Kamloops Blazers Moose Jaw Warriors Portland Winterhawks Swift Current Broncos Swift Current Broncos Wenatchee Wild Wenatchee Wild Wenatchee Wild WHL NHL Atlee Calvert Jakub Dvorak Emmitt Finnie Tyson Jugnauth Vojtech Port Matthew Savoie
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