Winnipeg Ice kick off 2019 WHL Bantam Draft with a bang

St. Albert, Alberta 15 year old forward Matthew Savoie, who was the 1st overall pick in Wednesday's WHL Bantam Draft by the Winnipeg Ice . With permission from Winnipeg Ice

The Winnipeg Ice didn’t hesitate to select the best player available in the 2019 Western Hockey League Bantam draft Thursday morning in Red Deer, Alta.

The Ice chose 15-year-old forward Matthew Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., who has been described by some as “generational”, and by others as “the next Crosby”.

Savoie, who is on the slight side at 5’9″ and 172 pounds, spent this past season with the Northern Alberta X-treme Prep of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League and led the team in scoring with 31 goals and 40 assists for 71 points in just 31 games.

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The majority of the players in the CSSHL are two or three years older than Savoie.

READ MORE: Alberta’s Matthew Savoie drawing lofty hockey comparisons at the age of 14

Hockey Canada recently turned down a request by Savoie for exceptional status that would have allowed him to play in the WHL this season as an underage player.

Had Savoie been born less than 24 hours earlier, he would have been eligible to play without any special permission required.

Whether it was coincidental or not, just a few days later, Savoie signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Denver following his high school graduation.

There’s still an opportunity for the Ice to get him to change his mind and go the WHL route. It probably didn’t hurt Winnipeg’s chances when they acquired his 17-year-old brother Carter in a trade with the Regina Pats last month.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Ice win WHL draft lottery

In the event Savoie doesn’t commit, the Ice protected themselves by making a couple of trades with  the Saskatoon Blades and then the Prince George Cougars to move up to the number-two position in the draft. They used that pick to take Yellowhead Cheifs Forward Conor Geekie of Strathclair.

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Yellowhead Cheifs Forward Conor Geekie, who was the 2nd overall pick of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft in Red Deer on Wednesday by the Winnipeg Ice. With permission from the Winnipeg Ice

14-year-old Geekie is already 6’3″ and 170 pounds and comes from a hockey – and all-around sports – family.

His father Craig played for the Wheat Kings and his oldest brother Morgan graduated from the Tri City Americans in 2018 and played this past season for the Charlotte Checkers – the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.

His 18-year-old brother Noah was drafted by the Calgary Hitmen but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball instead.

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WATCH: Winnipeg Ice begin battle for share in city’s hockey market

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Winnipeg Ice begin battle for share in city’s hockey market – Jan 30, 2019

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