As per WHL sources including Prince George Cougars General Manager Mark Lamb, 2004-born generational talent Matthew Savoie has been denied exceptional status in the Western Hockey League.
On the same day that Shane Wright received the honour of exceptional status in the Ontario Hockey League, Savoie has been denied the same status in the West. Savoie is expected to be the top overall pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
The WHL confirmed that they have no role in the exceptional status decision and that Hockey Canada makes the decision regarding the exceptional status of a player. They made no further comment.
We reached out to Hockey Canada and, at this point, have received no comment.
Sources have confirmed to DUBNetwork.ca that a panel of three were responsible for that decision which limits Savoie to the normal five game limitation set for 15-year-olds in the league. There have been times like with Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers this season (seven games so far) and Kirby Dach (19 games in 2016-17) of the Saskatoon Blades where they have played over the number normally allowed. Though these exceptions were made due to injuries that the WHL teams were facing at the time.
One scout commented on the talented Savoie after seeing him play many times.
“An elite skater who blends hard to contain strength with bursting acceleration. He has a tremendous vision and deception with the ability to both score or create at will. His work ethic extends beyond the offensive side of the puck, he’s a relentless back checker and overall a complete package.”
Savoie recently competed at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer with Team Alberta notching six goals and seven assists in 13 games to finish sixth overall in tournament scoring.
SAVOIE DOES IT AGAIN!!
Matthew Savoie puts up 2G and 2A for 4TP in a victory over New Brunswick at the Canada Games U16s. The 2004 has proven to be the best player at this tournament dominated by 2003s. Savoie is the #1 prospect for the #2022NHLDraft. pic.twitter.com/oa1SwZIB6P
— TPEHockey (@TPEHOCKEY) February 21, 2019
The St. Albert native was also just named the MVP of the Midget Prep division of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League while playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme. Savoie finished fifth in the league in scoring with 31 goals and 40 assists for 71 points in 31 games. He finished 13 points ahead of the second leading scorer on his team, Edmonton Oil Kings first-overall pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Dylan Guenther.
Being named MVP is all the more impressive considering Savoie was playing in a league with players who are a year older than him.
— CSSHL (@CSSHL) March 8, 2019
After this decision by the panel, this leaves the 5-foot-9, 172 pound Savoie with limited options for next season. Possibilities include the CSSHL for another season, or according to sources, a contract in the USHL.
Savoie has an incredibly decorated career already just at the young age of 15. Those include being named AMBHL Rookie of the Year as a 12-year-old, CSSBHL MVP as an underage and CSSHL MVP as an underage.
2005-born WHL Prospects that have been watching this procedure are believed to be strongly affected on whether or not they apply for exceptional status next season.