2022 NHL Draft Profiles: WHL Skaters
Analyzing two prospects from the WHL that the Senators could take 7th overall
As we continue our prospect profiles we turn to the Western Hockey League where the two most likely candidates to be selected 7th overall by the Ottawa Senators both happen to play for the same team. The interesting thing about these two prospects is that, although they’re ranked similarly and play for the same team, they’re very different players. In one corner, you have the smaller, speedy Matthew Savoie who has drawn comparisons to other small skilled stars like Brayden Point and Alex DeBrincat. In the other corner, you have a big, sturdy centre in Conor Geekie who’s got the NHL frame, shot and skill to be a very solid pivot at the highest level.
So, let’s dive in and take a look at the two members of the Winnipeg Ice who are likely to be around when the Sens step up to the podium in July.
Conor Geekie, C
|Pos||Team||League||Height||Weight||Date of Birth||EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking|
|C||Winnipeg Ice||WHL||6'4"||205 lbs||May 5, 2004||#14|
Geekie hails from Strathclair, Manitoba, a town of just over 700 people. With evident skill and added size, Geekie played for the Yellowhead Chiefs U18 AAA program in 2019-20, at the age of 15. In that season, he put up 35 points in just 26 games against players, in some cases, two years older than him. If you recall the vast difference in size and strength between 15 and 17 year old boys back when you were that age, you’d be particularly impressed with this accomplishment.
After cracking the WHL, Geekie was quickly productive. In 2020-21, he split time between the Winnipeg Ice and the Virden Oil Capitals of the MJHL. While with Winnipeg, he contributed just under a point per game as a rookie.
Turning to this season, Geekie took his game to the next level, clearing a point per game while also taking important draws and growing his game away from the puck. Relative to other draft eligible WHLers this year, Geekie faired well in production. He ranked fourth in primary points per game (P1/GP) with 0.73 while his work at even strength was particularly impressive, with 0.62 even strength primary points per game (EV P1/GP), ranking him second.
Looking at how players from the WHL have performed during their draft year since 2017, Geekie ranks 34th in P1/GP and 14th in EV P1/GP. For a bit of comparison, previously drafted players with similar even strength production as Geekie coming out of this league include Dylan Cozens, Nolan Patrick and Kirby Dach.
When investigating draft profiles for Geekie, a few of the common trends are surrounding his hockey sense. The Ice were a strong team in the WHL this year and Geekie was one of their top contributors - particularly in the offensive zone. His ability to read and react to the play, while finding seams for his teammates, is one of the main reasons Winnipeg was able to be as successful as they were.
One thing to watch for with a player like Geekie is how much of his mature size is helping him be successful in junior and how much of it is truly his skill and abilities. For the most part, because Geekie sees the ice well, distributes the puck efficiently and has an underrated shot, it’s likely that he projects to be a solid NHLer. The question is if his average skating will be able to take the next step to turn him from solid NHLer to top line talent.
Geekie checks off a lot of boxes for what we know about the Sens and their drafting habits. While he’s not committed to the University of North Dakota, he is a player who’s got the combination of size and skill that tends to climb up the draft board for Trent Mann’s group. When you look at the last five or more years of drafting, Tim Stützle is the exception to the rule when it comes to size and physicality - although, he certainly showed this year that he’s not afraid to get into the dirty areas. When you look at players from Brady Tkachuk to Tyler Boucher to Egor Sokolov, there’s a lot of size on the Sens draft board and you can expect that with Geekie’s addition of some fantastic skill and playmaking, he’s almost certainly in the conversation at this week’s scouting meetings.
If you want to take a closer look at what makes Geekie an intriguing option at 7th overall, check out this piece from Prospect Film Room on the tall, skilled centre.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki, RW
|C||Team||League||Height||Weight||Date of Birth||EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking|
|RW||Djurgårdens IF||SHL||5'11"||172 lbs||July 4, 2004||#11|
Matthew Savoie is the other WHL skater who’s likely to be of consideration for the Senators in the first round this summer. What Savoie offers is a very different profile from that of Geekie - specifically from a physical standpoint. While Geekie towers over his competition, Savoie is often flying literally under the radar. At just 5’9”, Savoie is one of those players who naturally draws comparisons to the few smaller forwards who end up becoming elite members of their teams.
From all accounts, it looks like Savoie can, in fact, be that next small superstar. His 90 points in 65 games is impressive by itself but when you break it down further, it gets even better. For draft eligible players in 2022, Savoie leads the WHL in both P1/GP and EV P1/GP.
Understandably, Savoie’s success comes from his speed and creativity. When translating to NHL production, it’s likely you’ll see Savoie become a high end playmaker. That’s not to say he won’t score at the NHL level but his ability to find his teammates and make them better is one of the most common things you’ll see and hear about Savoie as we get closer to the draft. Specifically, Savoie’s ability to manipulate the opposition is impressive to watch. Many of the highlight reel passes you’ll see have him selling the defenders and goalies on the shot only to place the puck in the perfect position for a teammate to bury.
Of course, the knock against Savoie is unsurprisingly related to his size. It’s not that he can’t play at the NHL level, but being as small as he is, his defensive game suffers. He’s incredibly smart and fast, so he can make up for some of that deficit in his own zone but his lack of strength and reach does mean he can get beat in the corners and lose puck battles if the opposing player gets a chance to box him out. While he’s listed as a centre for Winnipeg, I’d expect him to get moved to the wing when he makes the jump to professional hockey.
Unlike Geekie, Savoie doesn’t check many boxes when it comes to how the Senators usually draft. That’s not to say the team won’t be seriously considering him at 7th, he’s just not their “type”. That being said, from a need perspective, a right handed skilled forward should be something the Sens are looking to add to the cupboards. Knowing Ottawa is missing some high end skill behind Drake Batherson on the right wing, Savoie would be an intriguing fit for the Sens even though he exists outside of what they tend to go for. The idea of Savoie’s playmaking on the wing with Josh Norris, for example, is certainly worth a good day dream.
If both players were available for Ottawa at 7th, who would you go for?