Hockey Canada announced on March 9th, 2019 that superstar in the making Matthew Savoie would be denied exceptional status to join Major Junior Hockey (WHL) a year early. Savoie, whose birthday is January 1st, 2004 misses the cutoff by one day. He will be forced to look elsewhere to play for the next two seasons. He recently committed to Denver University for the 2021-2022 season, becoming one of the few players to play a year of college hockey before his draft year.

Savoie was born in St. Albert, Alberta and currently sits at 5’9”, 172lbs, he’s played minor hockey in Edmonton all his life.

He’s spent the last three years in Bantam playing for the St. Albert Sabres Bantam AAA, Northern Alberta Bantam Prep and Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep teams scoring 93 goals, 136 goals for 229 points in 96 games.

My Opinion

I don’t really know why he got declined, other than the fact that nobody in the WHL has been granted exceptional status. Shane Wright got granted exceptional status in the OHL and by all means, he deserves it with 150 points in 72 games. However, most would agree that Savoie is a better prospect as he’s the projected #1 overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

There’s starting to become a trend with Hockey Canada accepting OHL and QMJHL players out East but not accepting any WHL players for exceptional status. Previous exceptional players and for good reason have been:

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Connor McDavid

Aaron Ekblad

John Tavares

Sean Day

Joe Veleno

A couple of those names are not like the others but Aaron Ekblad, McDavid and Tavares have gone on to be exceptional NHL players and have all been named to an All-Star team in their careers.

I’m a firm believer that a player should play where they want to play and are able to play, then again, I’m against the WHL 20-year old rule. If a player signs a professional contract (entry-level) they should be able to start playing professional hockey. For example, the Oilers drafted Evan Bouchard, who had to play another season in the OHL instead of moving to the AHL. I’m assuming he didn’t learn much this year as he was oversized and simply dominated the OHL, he would have benefited a lot more from a year in the AHL.

Now What?

Savoie has recently signed a commitment letter to Denver University, partially to guarantee him somewhere to play hockey, playing with his brother Carter Savoie and I assume as a threat to Hockey Canada to change his mind.

There’s also the possibility he gets reinstated and is allowed to play in the AJHL next season, where one can only assume he’d signed with the Sherwood Park Crusaders and play with his brother.

In conclusion. Hockey Canada dropped the ball on this one and they are potentially hurting their team down the line. The Savoie family is extremely upset with Hockey Canada so it’ll be interesting to see if they decline invitations to the U18’s and IIHF World Juniors down the line.

Let Savoie play, Prince George needs the help.

Matthew Savoie & Exceptional Status
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