It’s the little brothers’ turn this week.
Conor Geekie, brother of Kraken forward Morgan, and Matthew Savoie teamed up to clear a path through the Western Hockey League with the Winnipeg Ice. They’re both projected first-round picks in the NHL entry draft, which begins Thursday in Montreal.
Savoie and Geekie are fourth and fifth, respectively, in Central Scouting’s final 2022 draft prospect rankings for North American skaters. Geekie has the size at somewhere around 6 feet 4, and Savoie stands 5-9. Savoie is projected to go higher, however, and is the more likely candidate at No. 4 if the Kraken take a liking to the WHL pair.
A capable scorer and playmaker, Savoie piled up 90 points (35 goals) in 65 games last season for Winnipeg, good for seventh in the WHL. He exited a series loss against the eventual league playoff champion Edmonton Oil Kings in Game 2 because of a shoulder injury. He was limited at the draft combine, but able to avoid surgery.
Savoie’s stature was well-noted, but so is his knack for scoring. Several outlets have Savoie going fifth or sixth. He was ninth in TSN’s Top 10.
“A quick, gifted, and skilled, albeit undersized, offensive presence who can score goals and make plays,” the report read. “Some NHL scouts see him more as a winger … but high-end smarts and skill level project him to be a top-six offensive forward in pro.”
Geekie (24 goals, 46 assists, 63 games with Winnipeg) is projected to go toward the middle of the first round. He has the size and vision but likely isn’t NHL-ready, needing to work on his quickness and acceleration.
“Projects as a skilled power forward. The skill part is evident now, while the power forward part is a work in progress,” Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino noted in his March rankings.
Both first-round hopefuls have older brothers already playing at hockey’s highest level. Savoie’s older brother, Carter, signed with the Edmonton Oilers after winning a national championship at the University of Denver. He appeared in two AHL games last season. Carter Savoie, who is listed at 5-10 and 193 pounds, was the Oilers’ fourth-round pick (100th overall selection) in 2020.
“To have a guy like that go through the process, he knows what it takes and has given good insight into how it all works,” Matthew Savoie recently told The Hockey News. “It’s great.”
Morgan Geekie is a pending restricted free agent, which means the Kraken have until July 11 to extend him a qualifying offer to retain negotiation rights.
Without naming names, Kraken general manager Ron Francis said decisions have been made regarding most of the Seattle RFAs and the final calls on the remaining few will be made before next week.
Morgan Geekie was taken by Seattle in the expansion draft after becoming the Carolina Hurricanes’ third-round selection (67th overall) in 2017. He scored seven goals to go with 15 assists through 73 games in 2021-22, by far the most game action he’s seen in parts of three NHL seasons.
“Morgan was never really given anything hockey-wise growing up and has had to work hard for everything he’s achieved,” Conor said to NHL.com. “He was a late draft pick, and I think a lot of the things that he does, and what I take most, is the person he is outside of the rink, how humble and hardworking he is.”
In the strange work of projecting an 18-year-old’s eventual size, looking at the height and frame of a parent or brother can help. Family ties are one of the many things analyzed leading up to the draft, according to Francis.
“There’s a lot of things that you factor into making that decision, and that is certainly one that would have consideration, if there are those kind of blood lines ,” Francis said.
Center Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL), center Logan Cooley (U.S. National Team Development Program) and winger Juraj Slafkovsky (TPS, Liiga) are toward the top of most draft lists as the Kraken are set to follow the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes in Thursday’s first round. Seattle could use a defenseman with a right-handed shot — and there could be two of those available at No. 4 in David Jiricek and Simon Nemec — but also a proven scorer.
Eleven more picks will follow in Rounds 2-7 on Friday unless Seattle strikes a deal.
“We never say never, but it would have to be pretty special player for us to move (No. 4),” Francis said.