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Newest Oiler Matt Savoie talks about ‘dream’ opportunity to play for team he grew up cheering for

WATCH ABOVE: Matt Savoie spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Monday just says after being traded to the Oilers.

Matt Savoie, a highly-regarded NHL prospect who grew up in St. Albert, Alta., spoke to members of the media in Edmonton on Monday about what it’s like to have been traded to the Oilers, the team he grew up cheering for.

“I’m really excited to be here,” the 20-year-old, who was selected ninth overall by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, said with a broad smile. “Just excitement being an Edmonton guy, growing up around here, always coming to games as a kid.”

Newest Oiler Matt Savoie speaks to reporters in Edmonton on Monday, July 8, 2024. Global News

He added that his family home growing up was “definitely an Oilers household.” His older brother Carter even spent several years with the Oilers organization, playing for the club’s American Hockey League affiliate.

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“Watching the playoff run they went on (this season) and being around the city and the buzz, it’s exciting to come to this team right now,” he said of the Oilers’ 2024 appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, the first time the club has accomplished that in 18 years.

Savoie noted that he arrived in Edmonton as the championship series was underway after his season wrapped up playing at the Memorial Cup with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors. He said he watched the Stanley Cup Final games on TV with friends and “cheered for the Oilers in secret,” something he won’t have to be careful about anymore after the Sabres traded him to Edmonton on Friday in exchange for forward Ryan McLeod and prospect Tyler Tullio.

“They have a ton of young prospects right now who are kind of on the cusp of making the (NHL),” Savoie said when asked why he thinks Buffalo was willing to part ways with him despite his demonstrated offensive talent. “They had to move a couple of guys out to try and make their team better now and get some older players — experienced players.

“I understood it.”

In 2024, the Sabres missed the playoffs for a 13th-straight year and the club is surely feeling the pressure to play some post-season games this year. The Oilers on the other hand, are stocked with loads of talent — led by captain Connor McDavid — and had their best playoff run yet with its current group, something Savoie noted bodes well for the future.

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“You look at the roster and the additions they made in the summer, and they’re going for it,” he said.

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“It’s every young player’s dream to come into an opportunity like this and play with really good players and get good opportunities, so I’m just really determined (and) motivated.”

Last season, Savoie played one game with the Sabres and also split time playing with the Roster Americans of the AHL and the WHL’s Wenatchee Wild before ending up on the Warriors for their run to the Memorial Cup.

“(It was) a little bit hectic,” the forward admitted as he spoke about his 2023-24 hockey season. “I felt like I was kind of always on the move playing on four different teams.

“It was a lot of fun though. I got to experience a bunch of different things.”

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Click to play video: '13-year-old Bantam player already on scouts’ radar'
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With the Warriors, Savoie scored 19 goals and put up 28 assists in just 23 regular-season games. He then added 10 goals and 14 assists in the playoffs and helped the Warriors win the WHL championship. In six games with the Americans, he put up five points.

“That first taste of pro was big for what I need to work on this summer: continuing to round out my game, continuing to get faster and stronger, and really be able to play at that high pace for a full shift and full games,” said the five-foot-nine, 179-pound player who can play all three forward positions.

Matt Savoie poses with team officials after being selected 9th by the Buffalo Sabres during the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft Thursday, July 7, 2022 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Reporters asked Savoie about his injury history on Monday and the prospect confirmed his shoulders are feeling good.

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“At the start in Buffalo last year, in training camp when I got injured, I thought even when I was not skating with the team — rehab — I was able to make big strides in the gym just working on little things,” he added.

Savoie said he is excited about attending the Oilers’ training camp in September even if it is not yet clear what type of role, if any, he may have with the club at the NHL level next season.

“I think I’m capable of playing at that level right now, but you want to do what’s best for your development as well and play lots,” he said. “Wherever I play next year, I’m going to be working really hard and just trying to get better.”

WHL (Western Hockey League) profile photo on Winnipeg Ice player Matt Savoie during a game against the Calgary Hitmen in Calgary, Ab. on Wed., Jan. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Savoie said he believes his foot speed is one of his “biggest weapons” when he plays.

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“I like to play really fast,” he explained. “I think the game at a high level as well, … looking for the best opportunity to put the puck into the net while being reliable on the defensive side as well.”

Oilers re-sign Lavoie

The same day that Savoie was introduced to the Edmonton media as an Oiler for the first time, the club announced another move through which it has bolstered its forward depth ahead of the 2024-25 season.

The Oilers re-signed 23-year-old Raphael Lavoie to a one-year, two-way contract with an average annual value of $775,000 at the NHL level.

Edmonton Oilers centre Raphael Lavoie, right, takes the puck as Los Angeles Kings centre Trevor Lewis reaches for it during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Lavoie played seven games with the Oilers last season but spent most of the year with the club’s AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. As a Condor, he scored 28 goals and put up 50 points in 66 games.

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Lavoie, a native of Quebec, was selected by the Oilers in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

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