One of the best goalie outdoors the NHL all of the sudden isn’t outdoors the NHL anymore. And simply as all of the sudden, the Florida Panthers’ crease simply bought much more crowded. When the Panthers introduced that they had signed former Boston School and U.S. World Junior standout Spencer Knight to an entry-level deal Wednesday, it was with the clear intent that he stick with the NHL group the remainder of this season.
In truth, don’t be in the least shocked if Knight, chosen 13th total by the Panthers in 2019, sees NHL motion in some unspecified time in the future. After signing his contract, the primary order of enterprise is for Knight to hitch the group in Florida, the place he’ll probably be positioned on the taxi squad. However early indications are that he won’t spend any time within the American League this season. He’ll earn a pro-rated portion of his minor league wage of $70,000 on the taxi squad, which is able to shift to his $835,000 stipend if he’s moved to the energetic roster.
What this implies for Florida’s goaltending within the long-term is pretty clear. Sergei Bobrovsky has 5 years remaining on his deal after this season, however coach Joel Quenneville has not hesitated to play backup Chris Driedger. The identical would be the case for Knight, who will in the end play forward of Bobrovsky if he proves to be the higher possibility. Within the short-term, Driedger, who has been excellent this season, won’t be again in Florida subsequent season. Would the Panthers contemplate buying and selling Driedger earlier than the April 12 commerce deadline with a view to make room for Knight? Presumably, however unlikely. Driedger’s numbers have really been superior to Bobrovsky’s this season, though Bobrovsky’s sport has picked up after one other sluggish begin to the season. I’m advised the one manner the Panthers would contemplate buying and selling Driedger is that if they obtain a proposal that is just too good to refuse. And even when they did that, they’d virtually definitely exit and get a veteran backup as insurance coverage.
So Knight will virtually definitely be a part of a three-goalie make-up after the commerce deadline and till the tip of the playoffs. The best way the Panthers see it, there’s extra to be gained by Knight being round and training with the NHL group than there may be enjoying within the minors. In December, GM Invoice Zito established a division of goaltending excellence for the group, headed up by former Panther star goalie Roberto Luongo. Additionally on the workers are longtime goaltending coaches Francois Allaire and Robb Tallas. “It’s clearly nice to have that many goalie sources,” Knight stated. “I feel it should assist and I feel a variety of groups are going to begin doing that, however I speak to Roberto…gosh, he sends me texts on a regular basis and he calls me each few weeks simply to test in. It’s good to know that they’re there for you as an individual, not only for hockey. Having that assist system, not solely off the ice, however on the ice, is essential.”
For Knight, it was a pure development for him to show professional. He’s performed the previous two years at Boston School and was lights-out in his sophomore season, posting a 16-4-1 file and a .932 save proportion for the Eagles, whose season ended sooner than anticipated once they have been defeated by 4-1 by St. Cloud State within the regionals final weekend. He was each the participant and the goaltender of the 12 months in Hockey East and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the highest participant in U.S. faculty hockey. On the worldwide stage he had an excellent larger impression. After giving up 4 objectives on 12 pictures to Russia within the first sport of the World Junior Championship, Knight bought the web again and ran the desk, stopping all 34 pictures he confronted in a 2-0 win over Canada within the gold medal sport, bettering fellow Panther prospect Devon Levi within the Canadian web. Knight was significantly heroic within the third interval when the Individuals have been outshot 15-1.
Knight has been a official NHL prospect for a very long time, however it’s nonetheless taking time for the enormity of the newest profession improvement to sink in. “It virtually doesn’t appear actual but, to be sincere with you,” the 20-year-old stated. “I grew up watching the NHL once I was 4, 5 years previous and it looks like a far-off fantasy land generally once you’re not there. I nonetheless don’t even understand what I’m doing, I assume you could possibly say. However I feel as soon as I get there and I see who’s round me, it is going to be fairly cool and I feel I’ll take all of it in.”