2019 NHL Draft Preview: Spencer Knight, USA Goaltender

With the LA Kings organization going through a necessary transition after paying the price of two Stanley Cups, there is an obvious need to refill the cupboard in all positions — after trying to maintain the team’s playoff contender status for so many years.

Enter the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

We’ve taken quite a bit of time providing you information on the various skaters of the draft. However, there is another position we have not covered at all yet. One of the focal points dating back more than a decade now has been to construct a team from the net out. It’s been tended on a regular basis since the 2008-09 season by Jonathan Quick, and the Kings are now eyeing Cal Petersen to be the next heir.

Building for the future is an ongoing process, though, and even though the Kings are already penciling Petersen in the lineup long-term, they need to look for the next piece to protect the net. Incidentally, a prospect the Kings could target was inspired by their own player.

SPENCER KNIGHT

Vitals

Date of Birth: April 19, 2001
Height: 6’3
Weight: 193 lbs
Catches: Left
Position: Goalie

2018-19 Season

Knight spent his entire 2018-19 season with the USNTDP U-18 team, where he backstopped them to a 32-4-0-1 record in 39 appearances (2.36 goals against average, .913 save percentage). He also tended net for Team USA at the U-18 WJC, where he remarkably led all goalies with a 1.51 GAA and .936 SV% in six contests; this performance would have to be considered a key factor in USA’s bronze medal performance. Knight did earn silver with the U-20 WJC team, however he did not dress in any of the games.

American Eagle

At the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, Knight was a late-round selection of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, but opted out so he can retain his NCAA eligibility. Moving forward, he is committed to the Boston College Eagles, where the Kings have had some influence in the past. Perhaps the most recognizable of those names would be Rob Scuderi. 

Recently, we profiled another potential Kings pick who is committed to Boston College – Matthew Boldy – giving Knight at least one familiar face when he makes the move.

American Idol

To date, Knight has spent some time along the same development path as a goalie he idolized – two-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick. While Quick never played in the USNTDP, both represented Avon Old Farms in high school level competition.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

  • 21st by The Draft Analyst. In a separate article, Steve Kournianos broke down the goaltender’s style, “Knight is a classic butterfly goalie who covers the lower corners exceptionally well. His Reverse-VH is textbook, and although he occasionally leaves gaps (like all goalies), you see him physically try to keep his extended arm tight to the near post, leaving only a small opening near-post high. Knight in the RVH also seems to favor tucking his skate inside the post or dug into it as opposed to overlapping. His stick is very active, and in the RVH he positions it to break up centering feeds back into the strong side instead of putting them in the low slot. Knight’s overall rebound control is impeccable – if he sees the shot, it’s getting steered into the corner or gobbled up by his glove. He rarely puts a low or medium-danger shots back into a prime scoring area, and if he does, he immediately locks in and will pounce on a loose puck with cat-like quickness.”
  • 21st by Last Word On Hockey, who drew a lofty comparison: “Knight will head to the NCAA next year, where he should be Boston College’s top goalie, even as a freshman. The light NCAA schedule will give him plenty of time to continue to refine his game in practice and increase his strength in the weight room. While Knight is a few years away from making an NHL impact, he has the potential to be a franchise goaltender. His playing style is reminiscent of Carey Price. This is not a reflection of his skill or ability but rather a mear stylistic comparison.”
  • 21st by Dobber Prospects, who summarized the ranking by writing, “Talented netminder who blends quickness and strong positioning. Size, athleticism and a strong pedigree. Isn’t shaken by a soft goal or bad outing  – a great sign for the mental side of the position”

Moves Like Jagger

Want to see some of Knight’s smooth stickhandling ability? Below is a tweet highlighting him maneuvering the puck around a Russian forechecker. Keep in mind this was a semifinal match, showing the confidence he has with the puck.

See For Yourself

As usual, we like to provide some video on the prospect profiled, allowing you to draw your own conclusions. Below are some highlights of Knight from this season.

Final Comments

Taking nothing away from Knight, we’d be a bit surprised if the Kings used either of their first round selections on a goaltender – even on one who is projected to be the ‘real deal’ and is head and shoulders above other netminders among this year’s draft class. With Cal Petersen waiting in the wings, LA’s current focus at the top of the draft board should be elsewhere. Here’s the catch when you get the draft table, though – teams shouldn’t be drafting based on need. Taking a player like Knight is more of a long-term commitment, as the soonest he is expected to go pro won’t be for a few years still. Thus, his composure, athleticism, and ability to handle the puck could be a great asset for the Kings organization over time.

NOTE: Author David Hofreiter can be found on Twitter @Davidenkness if you’re interested in talking more hockey with him or asking further questions about this player.

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