26-Year-Old Defenseman – Columbus Blue Jackets
David Savard Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $21.25 million contract with the Blue Jackets in September 2015. Deal goes into effect beginning in 2016-17 and runs through the 2020-21 season.
Savard scored a goal and added an assist in Saturday's 5-4 overtime win over the Wild.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Savard's production took a step back last season as he battled foot and oblique injuries before ending his campaign early to undergo foot surgery. When healthy, the 25-year-old offers solid size and a strong presence in his own end while chipping in as a secondary option on the power play, a role that isn't likely to change with Seth Jones and Ryan Murray entrenched at the top of the depth chart, not to mention 2015 first-round pick Zach Werenski, who’s expected to crack the roster as well. Consider last year's 39 points to be Savard's ceiling rather than his baseline.
Though he was a strong prospect who had produced in the AHL, Savard took some time to get acclimated to life at the highest level, but he simply took off last year, blowing away the previous campaign's numbers in nearly every category. He's now a top-pairing blueliner for Columbus, and thus should be heavily involved on the offense. WIth James Wisniewski gone now, Savard could see his power-play role expanded, but unless he starts firing more pucks on net (just 112 in 82 games last year), he's a good bet to see his goal total fall back -- that 9.8 shooting percentage is very high for a defenseman and likely unsustainable. Still, that doesn't mean Savard should be discounted in fantasy drafts -- with all the minutes he'll be seeing on the ice with the Jackets' super-talented top forward lines, he's got the potential to pile up plenty of points.
Savard continues to produce solid offensive numbers in the AHL, but hasn't yet found a way to translate his skill to the next level. The Blue Jackets' depth chart on the blue line gets more crowded every year though, and Savard may need a change of scenery to get another crack at the NHL.
Savard didn't acquit himself too badly in his first look at the NHL, scoring 10 points and managing a plus-minus of zero in 31 games (not bad at all when you're toiling for the worst team in the league). He continues to see competition flow into the organization, with second-overall pick Ryan Murray and former Ranger prospect Tim Erixon joining Savard and John Moore to form what could be an impressive core of young blueliners in a few years, and, as a result Savard could remain on the AHL-NHL shuttle until Columbus starts phasing out its veteran defensemen to make room for the future.
John Moore was the more heralded prospect coming into last season, but it was Savard who hit the ground running in his first crack at the pros, and he rang up 11 goals and 43 points in 72 AHL games. Savard's still a little rough around the edges at both ends of the rink but he'll likely be among the first defensemen called up to Columbus this season if injuries strike the blue line, and if he works his way onto the first power play unit next to James Wisniewski he could provide some surprising production as a rookie.
Two-way defense prospect begins his pro career after a 13-64-77 showing in 64 QMJHL games last season.