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Knight won't be rushed by Panthers with Bobrovsky on board

Goalie selected No. 13 in 2019 NHL Draft focused on development, will play at Boston College

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Spencer Knight became the first goalie chosen in the 2019 NHL Draft when the Florida Panthers selected him with the No. 13 pick, but that doesn't mean he's going to be rushed to the NHL.

Quite the opposite. The Panthers signed two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract July 1, and Knight said he is good with the plan.

"I just want to make myself better every chance I can get," the 18-year-old said at Panthers development camp in June. "At the end of the day, if you can do that and just reach your full potential, that's what it's all about."

With Bobrovsky signed through 2025-26, Knight can take time to work on his craft.

"Most good goalies are 24, 25, 26 before they really hit it big in the NHL," Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. "He's aware. I had a good talk with him. I suggested this might happen. He knows the plan and he's good with it. He's got time now to mature and develop at his pace. But we've got high hopes for him."

Video: Prospect Spencer Knight in an unusual situation

Knight ended his first NHL development camp the day before the Panthers signed Bobrovsky. His next stop will be Boston College, where the starting goalie position is there for the taking after Joseph Woll, a three-year starter, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 24.

"I just want to get to campus and meet the guys," Knight said. "It's just get there and do what I do, right? And hopefully win some hockey games."

Knight, who was 59-10-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and .912 save percentage with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 and Under-17 teams the past two seasons, was the first goalie the Panthers selected since they took Sam Montembeault in the third round (No. 77) and Ryan Bednard in the seventh round (No. 206) in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Montembeault is likely to begin the season as the backup to Bobrovsky. Bednard is coming off an impressive season at Bowling Green University, where he was 20-8-4 with a 1.77 GAA and .927 save percentage.

Although those two goalies have a rightful place in the organization, the Panthers believe Knight can be a special one day.

"He's got swag," Tallon said. "He's got it. It's very rare to find a goaltender with that kind of mentality that he has and his ability and his hockey sense and all those things.

"He's got a special calmness about him that you don't get very often, especially at this position. I look forward to many positive years with him."



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