BUFFALO – For Monday’s Prospects Challenge finale, the Sabres gave some of their more established young players a well-deserved afternoon off.
However, center Matt Savoie, arguably the Sabres’ biggest prospect, dressed for his third consecutive game. Twenty-seven seconds after taking the opening faceoff, he skated into a Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jagger Joshua and left the game.
Savoie, who’s competing for an NHL job this season, suffered an upper-body injury and is expected to miss a little bit of time at training camp, Rochester Americans coach Seth Appert said. Camp opens Thursday.
Appert said Savoie, 19, will be reevaluated in the next day.
“With Matthew, there’s NHL training camp and bigger things ahead,” Appert said following the Sabres’ 3-0 loss in LECOM Harborcenter. “So you definitely hate it there.”
When the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Savoie’s left arm or shoulder made contact with the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Joshua around the goal crease, he spun around and stayed on his knees at the end boards as Pittsburgh opened the scoring. He got to his feet on his own before skating off the ice hunched over.
Savoie, the ninth overall pick in 2022, stood out early in the Prospects Challenge rookie tournament, scoring two goals in Friday’s 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Last season, he performed dynamically in junior, scoring 38 goals and 95 points in 62 games for the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice.
As a teenager, he’s not eligible to play in the AHL for the Amerks, so if he doesn’t crack Buffalo’s lineup, he must be returned to his WHL team, the Wenatchee Wild.
The Sabres, who suffered their first loss in the rookie tournament, scratched center Jiri Kulich and wingers Aleksandr Kisakov, Viktor Neuchev and Isak Rosen and awarded other players a look. They dressed 11 forwards and added a seventh defenseman.
Appert said Kisakov and Neuchev “had little nagging injuries.”
“We just felt collectively it didn’t make sense to try to push through anything right now with NHL camp to come,” he said. “There’s a lot of hockey left.”
Kulich and Rosen, both of whom played for the Amerks last season, earned a break.
“They did what they did last year, a full year of pro hockey, great playoff run,” Appert said. “And then they also did what they did the first two games, not only how good they played but how they did it, how competitive they were, that they played the right way. They didn’t try just to play on skill. They played on habits and work ethic and competitiveness.”
— Buffalo Hockey Moments (@SabresPlays) September 18, 2023