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Future NHL stars are developing in the Canadian Hockey League this season. Each week, will highlight a few of the top NHL-affiliated prospects in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

Matt Savoie has played for five teams at four different levels of hockey this season. But through all the moving and traveling and different jerseys, there have been two constants.

Lots of fun and lots of points.

"It's been pretty chaotic right from the start of September in training camp," the Buffalo Sabres forward prospect said. "But it's been a lot of fun being on a lot of different teams this year and playing with different guys and getting to learn from them. I've had a blast moving from team to team and bouncing around. It's been great."

His latest stop, Moose Jaw of the WHL, is reaping most of the benefits. Savoie was traded there by Wenatchee on Jan. 4 and has 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 22 games with his latest team. He has a point in 21 of those games, including 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) during a 15-game point streak.

For the season, the 20-year-old has 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists) in 33 games, and his average of 2.03 points per game leads the league.

But more than the number of points, the Sabres have been impressed with how Savoie, the No. 9 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft, has been generating them.

"What I see is an evolution in his game," Buffalo director of player development Adam Mair said. "Not that he hasn't done this before, but it's coming natural to him, just playing in all areas of the rink and still being able to find offensive opportunities. Also the way that he approaches those offensive opportunities -- he's able to lurk in the holes or gravitate to soft areas on the ice. The offense is coming more instinctually and from a hockey sense base than it is from his skill and speed and work ethic.

"I think that's a nice evolution for him. He's learning how to play the game and slow things down and manipulate plays and add deception. He's used his mind to create offense, not just his physical attributes.

"That's something that when he turns pro and everyone's a little faster and a little stronger, and you maybe don't have that advantage, you're really happy to see that he's able to produce in that way too. I think that just speaks to what he's going to be able to do ... once he gets comfortable and acclimated to the pace of the [professional] game."

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Savoie already has shown he can keep up with the pace at the next level. He had five points (two goals, three assists) in six games with Rochester of the American Hockey League during a conditioning loan after sustaining an upper-body injury during a rookie tournament in September. That earned him the chance to make his NHL debut, playing 3:55 in a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 10.

"That was a huge experience for me," Savoie said of his time in the AHL. "It was definitely a step, getting thrown right into pro hockey in my first season. I thought it was a good experience. I was getting some good minutes, getting to learn what it takes to compete at that level, and just try to contribute.

"The two weeks I was there, I learned a lot from the coaching staff and they did a great job just welcoming me and helping me feel comfortable with the systems and the guys around me. Getting that first taste of pro hockey was really cool and I took a lot away from it."

He was returned to the WHL the day after his first NHL game. But rather than be disappointed, Savoie saw it as a positive.

"It wasn't a terrible thing for me to get sent back down to junior for one more year and really fine-tune some things in my game that need working on, that need to get a little bit better for the pro level," he said. "I think it's a good developmental level to work on those things."

Those things have included a focus on holding onto the puck more to make plays in the offensive zone, whether that's been at center in the WHL, or playing on the wing for Canada at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he had one assist and nine shots on goal in four games.

"Puck possession in the NHL is such a big part of the game," he said. "And you want to have the puck on your stick as much as possible and have the other team chasing. Not giving the puck up easily, being able to shake defenders off and win those 1-on-1 corner battles I think has really elevated my game this year. And in talking to the staff in Buffalo and Rochester on things they want me to work on, just continuing to play fast and using my speed to challenge guys 1-on-1 and attacking the net."

For now, Savoie is focused on helping Moose Jaw during the WHL playoffs, which begin Friday. But he said he sees a real shot at making the Sabres the only team he plays for next season.

"I think just the experiences I got at the start of this year," he said, "being around [the Sabres] for three or so months and then getting the experience in Rochester with their players and their coaching staff, it was huge for me just to get the comfortability up and be more familiar walking into the rink every day. I think my approach to next year's training camp will be similar but different in the sense that I feel more comfortable and I know what to expect a little bit more."

Mair said he also believes it's possible for Savoie to make the jump to the NHL. The Buffalo roster has an average age of 25, including 18-year-old forward Zach Benson, Savoie's junior teammate the previous two seasons, showing management's willingness to give youthful players an opportunity.

"We're really excited at what he's done this year," Mair said of Benson, who has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 60 games with the Sabres. "Kevyn [Adams, general manager] and the management group and Donny [Granato, coach], they're not afraid to play young players and put them in situations to succeed in Buffalo. And if they feel that Matt can help them win next year then definitely he's going to be a player that plays there. ... Matt's capable of showing that he can do that."

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Easton Cowan, LW, London: The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect continued his record run with a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win against Windsor on Friday that extended his point streak to 35 games (66 points; 24 goals, 42 assists). The 18-year-old surpassed the longest streak in London history (Dave Gilmore, 33 games, 1993-94), and has the longest streak in the OHL since Bill Bowler had points in 41 straight for Windsor in 1994-95. Selected by the Maple Leafs with the No. 28 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Cowan is seventh in the OHL in scoring with 94 points (33 goals, 61 assists) in 53 games.

Justin Gill, C, Baie-Comeau: The New York Islanders prospect has been the top scorer on the top team in the QMJHL all season. The 21-year-old is second in the league with 98 points (40 goals, 58 assists) in 64 games, including 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in his past 14 games, and has been a big reason Baie-Comeau has the best record in the league (53-11-3). It's also the most points in a season by a Baie-Comeau player since Ivan Chekovich had 105 points (43 goals, 62 assists) in 2018-19. The Islanders selected Gill in the fifth round (No. 145) of the 2023 draft.

Jagger Firkus, C, Moose Jaw: Firkus had two goals and an assist in a 5-3 loss at Brandon on Thursday to give him 27 points (17 goals, 10 assists) during a 13-game point streak. It's the third time this season he has had a point streak of at least 13 games, topped by a league-high 26-game run from Nov. 25 to Feb. 17 (51 points; 19 goals, 32 assists). The 19-year-old, selected by the Seattle Kraken in the second round (No. 35) of the 2022 draft, is tied with Prince George forward Zac Funk for the WHL scoring lead with 121 points (58 goals, 63 assists) in 62 games this season.

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