Steadfast Sauve developing well with QMJHL's Sea Dogs
You can't blame anyone if they don't immediately recognize the name Yann Sauve; even if they're die-hard Canucks fans. After all, when the Canucks drafted Cody Hodgson 10th overall in 2008, the Brampton Battalion star was immediately the talk of the town and still is, despite having failed to make the big club two years in a row.
Yann Sauve was Vancouver's 2nd round pick in 2008
Yet while the same could be said for Yann Sauve, it's a well-known fact that defensemen take a considerable more amount of time to develop into NHL-ready players than forwards. It's the faster gamespeed, the higher level of physical play, competing against professional veterans and an 82-game schedule that has a daunting effect on the body; even moreso for a defender who averages 20 minutes of ice time per game.
And unlike Hodgson, who ripped up the OHL last year and lead the charge in helping Canada to gold at the World Juniors, Yann Sauve has painfully learned the finer aspects of the game with little to no fanfare. Some players come with a natural instinct for the game and they are certainly unique standout players, but sometimes it's the ones that battle and fight that steal the hearts of fans.
Sauve, recipient of the Mario Lemieux trophy in 2006
But while Sauve had a tough season last year, the 19-year old has taken all of the lessons he learned to apply them this year-- and the results are obvious. While it took him 61 games to hit 30 points last season, Sauve already has 20 points in half the amount of games so far this year; which is a nice surprise for a defenseman that wasn't entirely known for his offensive prowess.
Yet, even better than the amount of goals he's helped his team score, it's the amount of goals he's helped the team prevent that really stands out. With a paltry -4 at the end of the last year's campaign, there was no doubt that the Montreal-native was sourly lacking confidence in his own zone. Often caught of the play in attempt to make the big hit, Sauve managed to model his game after his idol player after all in Dion Phaneuf. And though it took a full season to realize he doesn't have the priviledge of a Miikka Kiprusoff saving him on those gaffes, Sauve's matured as a player and with an impressive +26 so far this year, has become the go-to man for the underdog Sea Dogs.
Whenever a 6'3, 220-pound 19-year old can improve in all major aspects of his game play in possibly his last year of junior hockey, there's a good sense that his hockey future is heading in the right direction. Despite not being named to the World Junior's training camp for this year yet again, Sauve might have bigger plans for next year as an individual to show the camp organizers what they could have missed out on.
And although there's still a long road ahead for Yann Sauve before he'll suit up at GM Place, the journey is off to a great start so far in his young career.
For the Orca Zone, I'm Canorcas