Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #4 Maxime Sauve

Maxime "Max" Sauve, C/LW
6-2, 190
January 30, 1990
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd selection, 47th overall in 2008
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis

Physical: Sauve possesses a nice, live athletic frame; is long-limbed and has more room to fill out. Upper body will need more strength training and development. Explosive skater; one of the fastest of any player in the Bruins organization if not the fastest. Erupts out of the blocks and puts defenders on their heels when he attacks them with speed. Also shifty with his east-west movement, but Sauve's greatest strength is his ability to come right at the teeth of a defense and still be able to get himself into position to generate scoring chances. Good puckhandler; handles the biscuit at top speed and willingly heads into traffic. Solid shooter; not overly dynamic or spectacular, but is able to get rid of it quickly and finish off chances in close. Quick hands on the deke make him lethal when he brings the puck in alone at full gallop. Defensively responsible, but clearly an offensive-minded player. Like several of his peers, will likely need to shift to wing in order to get a shot in Boston given the big club's glut of centers.

Intangibles: Sauve may have the most underrated hockey IQ of any prospect in Boston's system; simply did not get enough credit for his vision, puck distribution and ability to see things opening up beforehand. Son of J.F. Sauve, former NHL and longtime pro (Max was born in France while his dad was playing overseas) and nephew of longtime NHL goalie Bob Sauve. Cousin, Philippe, was an NHL goaltender with the Phoenix Coyotes and had a cup of coffee with the Bruins in 2007. As such, Max grew up around pro hockey and not only understands the requirements, but has the discipline to mold himself into a player. Speaks better English than he gives himself credit for. Like David Krejci, is thoughtful, introspective and will give intelligent answers to serious questions without the easy cliches.

2010 Development Camp assessment
Sauve had recently had the screws removed from his right ankle, injured back in November, so he was not cleared for regular participation in Wilmington last week. He had limited chances to skate after the sessions were over and took shots against goalies who stayed out afterwards to help him get some work in. It was an unfortunate situation, because Sauve, like Colborne, had the skill, experience and confidence to make a splash at the camp. He's expected to be 100 percent when main camp convenes in September.

If he continues to develop as expected, Sauve could eventually become a top-six forward, but realistically, he's going to have to make his bones on the third- or fourth lines initially if he can crack the Boston roster. Given his excellent skill set and hockey intellect, he could earn some time on the power play and penalty killing units. Has the speed and moxie to do it at both ends of the ice. Showed a lot to the Bruins brass in the spring when he scored a pair of goals in six games with Providence (with the screws in his ankle), and did it while not being completely healthy and on top of his game. Like Caron, he's a solid citizen and coachable player who listens and tries to apply what he learns. Sauve's very quiet by his nature, and without the confidence in his language skills, he won't make much of an impression in the dressing room, but at the end of the day, he's going to go out and make a hard run for an NHL job this fall. He's probably going to be a victim of the numbers game, but spending a year in Providence is not a bad thing.

(I talked briefly to Max when he was about to take the ice on the first day, but didn't really have the opportunity to get him on the record in the dressing room last week, as he was normally on the ice when the room was open and returned after it closed- so the quotes are from a piece I did on him back in April when he was a member of the Providence Bruins)

“I feel good to be (in the AHL. It’s been good, but I’m not completely better after ankle surgery yet.”- Maxime Sauve to; April 10, 2010

“It was a lot of fun (playing against Jordan Caron in the QMJHL playoffs). He’s a great player and can a lot of score goals. In the playoff (series) he would score, and then I would go out and score, so we had a good thing going. I can’t wait to play with him on my team."- Sauve to; April 10, 2010

"I’m a playmaker; I make some plays and score some goals. I’m not 100 percent right now, but I skate fast and am working on it every day.”- Sauve to; April, 2010

"Max has not looked out of place in this, his first taste of pro hockey. His speed is a real asset, and when you consider that he's not fully 100 percent yet, you can start to gain an appreciation for just how quick he is when completely healthy. I think he's benfited from getting into the games and now has a better understanding for what is expected of him at this level and the next."- Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray to; April, 2010

The Final Word
In this blog's opinion, Sauve is the most underrated of the Boston prospects, as he's not really been thought of as a legitimate top-six forward option, and has kind of flown under the radar because he missed so much time in a year that he could have possibly scored 100 points had he not messed up his ankle and missed three months of the season (it is important to note that not one player hit the century mark in the QMJHL for the first time in history this year). Sauve is a player who has the speed, hands and sense to be a going concern and when you think about the matchup nightmares he could one day pose if he's skating on a line with Tyler Seguin or perhaps Joe Colborne or Ryan Spooner, it brings his potential more into perspective. Sauve got lost in the shuffle in junior a bit because he played on such a bad team, but he started to show what he can do last fall in the '09 preseason, and he's going to be even better this time around. Is it going to be enough for him to earn a job in Boston? That'll be a tall order for sure, but at the same time, because he couldn't compete at D-camp, he was a bit out of sight, out of mind. Who is to say that had he been out there, we wouldn't be talking about Sauve in the same breath as Seguin, Colborne and Caron when it comes to young players who have a shot. Of course, the spots are limited, and Sauve is likely best served skating in Providence for a full year. But, he could be up with the big team before long because speed kills, and if the team is hit with a raft of injuries up front as was the case last season, he's likely to be on the short list for recall. His realistic Boston ETA is 2011-12, so Providence fans should get at least one year of enjoyment out of him. After that, all bets are off. This kid is that good.

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