NHL Draft Notebook: Savoie, Nemec, Havelid & More
Every season, FCHockey’s scouts are scouring the globe to get eyes on prospects eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft and beyond.
They spend countless hours watching both live games and game tape to get the best possible analysis on the prospects entering the NHL Draft. Our Unpacking the Notebook series typically looks at prospect reports filed within the last week but with the conclusion of the season has been expanded to feature top NHL Draft prospects.
Here’s a glimpse at their analysis.
BRYCE MCCONNELL-BARKER | C | SOO (OHL) | OCTOBER 23, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 17
Scouting report by Mat Sheridan
Bryce McConnell-Barker is a two-way forward who plays with pace and has an ability to make an impact in every zone. His pace and skating seem to be a level about his teammates and competition. He was always moving his feet, getting hard in on the forecheck to pressure defenders and coming back to help out his defenders in his own end. McConnell-Barker has a great low stance and is able to accelerate quickly using his crossovers. He makes great reads in the neutral zone and is able to cause turnovers with a quick stick. He also showed a willingness to drive into open lanes in the middle of the ice and to put the puck into high danger areas for his teammates. McConnell-Barker also did a good job moving around the offensive zone to find open space. In terms of improvement, I would like to see him improve his own zone awareness. He tended to transition towards the offensive zone too early at times and take himself out of the play. Overall, McConnell-Barker excels as a two-way forward who has power play upside but could improve his own zone awareness to not get caught out of position. Based on this viewing, he has a strong chance of going in the first few rounds of the draft.
MATTHEW SAVOIE | C | WINNIPEG (WHL) | OCTOBER 27, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 6
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
A lot of people were in the arena to see Matthew Savoie this night and he put on a show that did not disappoint. He was easily the best player on either team and generated some quality scoring chances. He is an incredibly confident forward who loves having the puck and being an offensive focal point. There is a real flow to how he moves around the ice and how in tune he is with the pace of play. He can play the game fast or slow, depending on the situation. His anticipation, drive and acceleration are all great, which helps him create times where he’ll blow past or through opponents to generate scoring chances. He handles the puck very well in full flight, controlling it well enough to fend off opponents, pull off dekes and make sure he gets a shot off. He’s skilled enough to beat defenders one-on-one while also having the vision and passing ability to defer pucks, making him tricky to predict. Steals pucks and forces turnovers because he’s usually in position and thinking the play quicker than others are. His decisions on the power play are also quite quick, as he looks to move the puck around and create chances before penalty killers can get set. He knows that his team relies on him to drive play and seems to take the responsibility seriously. His defensive game is underrated. He kills penalties with an ideal amount of seriousness and understands what he needs to do in those situations, applying pressure and cutting off lanes. The only real knock on him is his size, which is well below average for a high-end prospect. He certainly doesn’t shy away from battles or playing between the dots, which is great, but he isn’t hard to overpower when defenders get close enough to him, knocking him over or boxing him out of the play. What’s worse, his skating stride is short, so if he’s not careful as he adds muscle through development he runs the risk of hampering his quickness, which he needs to create separation. Savoie is easily one of the best prospects in this draft class and absolutely deserves to go in the top-10, though exactly how high he will go will depend on how much teams believe he can manage his size deficiency and subsequent physical development.
JACK HUGHES | C | NORTHEASTERN (NCAA) | OCTOBER 23, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 37
Scouting report by Douglas Larson
Jack Hughes is an unbelievable facilitator of the puck with great offensive awareness making him a real fun player to watch. His biggest strength in is game is his passing ability, and there’s no question about it. He’s got great vison/confidence with the puck and is able to distribute to his teammates in tight areas. Hughes often would come into the zone and stop to scan the ice looking for a passing option. He was working the half-wall on the power play and looked great having it run through him. Most of his game was played along the perimeter which makes sense as he’s always looking to set up teammates. Playmaking is his calling card but he’s got a strong shot, too. He’s able to catch and release the puck better than most. Defensively, he competes hard and glues himself to a player while defending. Very strong on the dot this game which helped his team start with possession of the puck very often when he was taking faceoffs. His game was near perfect to me besides noticing his tentativeness on the forecheck this game. I saw him stop skating well before he got near the puck and held off on putting a body on the defender. Real easy fix but just a small detail I saw with him. For my first time watching him I loved his offensive game and playmaking ability. He’s without a doubt one of the top passers for the upcoming draft. Right now I think I’d be willing to take him late in the first round, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some team swoops him up in the top-20 as he’s a top facilitator in the draft.
MATTIAS HAVELID | C | LINKOPING (J20) | OCTOBER 26, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 55
Scouting report by Fredrik Haak
Mattias Havelid is a defenseman with an excellent offensive mindset that is useful in every minute on the power play where he moves the puck quickly, smoothly and calmly. Whenever he has a chance he is not afraid of taking a shot which he does with a lot of power. He has the whole package to succeed if he continues to develop. To start, Havelid always plays with a lot of confidence taking the puck forward. He keeps his head up to see what is happening and his feet moving to maintain his way forward. On the offensive blue line he is creative and plays with a thin margin of error, but it is also that that gives him an advantage. He changes direction quick and often beats his opponent in 1-on-1 situations. Havelid’s passing game is great and he combines short and easy passes with long, accurate, decisive ones that hit the stick of his teammates. His defensive game is not as good as his offense, but he handles many situations well. He is active with his stick and tries to close the gap when opponents do a break out. His is not afraid of playing against the body and he has a good balance. Havelid has some areas that he needs to work on. Around his own net he sometimes acts a little lost and misses his mark. He could also be a little too aggressive and get overplayed from time to time when he wants to win loose pucks directly. With more strength and better physical elements coming in the next years he will also handle battle along the boards better than today. With the puck, he sometimes loses it due to too small margins when he tries to be creative. This was one of many views I’ve had of Havelid, and he continues to maintain his position as one of the most interesting Swedes in this draft class. If he continues to develop I see him as a good pick late in the first round and a player that will be top-four defenseman in the future.
SIMON NEMEC | D | HK NITRA (SVK) | OCTOBER 15, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 2
Scouting report by Miroslav Simurka
Simon Nemec is an offensive-minded, risk-taking, two-way defenseman who is present in all three zones. He is an excellent puck-moving defenseman. He was great in defensive puck retrievals and in transition game. On the retrievals he shoulder checks, scans his option and knows immediately what he has to do next. Nemec can skate the puck up ice as well as exit the zone with an accurate pass. His vision and decision making at breakouts is outstanding. He stretches the ice and uses all the space available as he joins the rush on the weak side on the breakouts. With the puck on his stick he has the passing skills and awareness to find his teammate on the weak side. In the offensive zone, Nemec was walking the blue line, beating opponents with nice little deceptions. But especially later in the game, Nemec was hitting the legs in front of him with his wrist shots. He was good defensively, angling and forcing the forwards to the wall and breaking up plays with his active stick. His stick awareness in the defensive zone and especially defending the rush is something that stands out. Physically, he looked to be on the same page as his much older opponents. He was not involved physically too much but looked good in couple battles along the boards. Nemec tends to be too aggressive on some occasions, pinching in the offensive zone and trying to break up plays on the defensive blue line. He is a good skater with no really area of concern in my opinion. But he is not as fast as some top offensive defensemen, so even if he reads the game exceptionally well he needs to play less aggressive in some situations. At this point I personally see him as a top-10 talent and future top-pairing defenseman.
NATHAN BOLDUC | D | VAL-D’OR (QMJHL) | OCTOBER 23, 2021
FCHockey Rank: NR
Scouting report by Shaun Richardson
Nathan Bolduc is an offensively-minded defenseman who just seems to float across the ice. He’s a high-end skater with fantastic edges and top-notch agility. Bolduc’s speed is outstanding and he has the type of quickness that allows him to accelerate around opponents. He showcased his skating all game versus Halifax. Bolduc was constantly able to mirror the attack and readjust his gap to take away space and close in on the puck-carrier. He was able to break pucks out in control with his feet or by passing. Bolduc regularly jumped up in the rush and his speed across the offensive blue line was able to push defenders back. Bolduc’s mobility along the offensive blue line was impressive. He could walk the line with speed, drag pucks to the middle of the ice, create shooting lanes and get pucks through to the net. Bolduc came off the line to attack deep in the zone and was a backdoor threat several times. In front of his own net, Bolduc had his head on a swivel, controlled sticks and won battles. I was very pleased with his ability to defend all over the ice and gain puck possession and once Bolduc had it his puck management was excellent. He was able to protect the puck, escape forecheckers and move it up ice. I saw some real improvement in this area of his game as Bolduc no longer got tunnel vision and tried to force pucks, instead he would opt for the simple play when that was the best option. That’s not to imply that his game lacked creativity. Bolduc was all over the ice and could put together quality offensive opportunities for himself and his teammates. If I had to suggest an area for improvement, I would say that Bolduc could stand to have a quicker shot release. On a couple occasions this game he seemed to double pump and miss a scoring opportunity. Projecting Bolduc’s potential is exciting because it really could be limitless. At this point he’s likely not in the top tier of defense prospects in what looks to be a strong year for defensemen, but in time Bolduc could be prove to be a diamond in the rough. I see him as a possible top-pair defenseman who has high-end playmaking ability with moderate goal scoring potential. He’s already tidied up the defensive side of his game and has developed some very solid fundamentals so once he adds some more muscle to his frame, I expect him to be quite reliable at the NHL level.
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