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NHL Draft

Knight could be next U.S.-born goalie to be first-round draft pick

Made impression with 12 saves at All-American Prospects Game

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Spencer Knight made 12 saves on 13 shots for Team Jamie Langenbrunner in its 6-4 win against Team Jordan Leopold at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday.

Knight, 17, showed NHL scouts why he's one of the top goaltending prospects for the 2019 NHL Draft, and possibly a first-round pick.

If Knight, who was born in Stamford, Connecticut, is selected in the first round, it would be the 10th time that a United States-born goaltender has been selected that early, following Tom Barrasso (Buffalo Sabres, No. 5, 1983), Brian Boucher (Philadelphia Flyers, No. 22, 1995), Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, No. 1, 2000), Jason Bacashihua (Dallas Stars, No. 26, 2001), Al Montoya (New York Rangers, No. 6, 2004), Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks, No. 26, 2004), Tom McCollum (Detroit Red Wings, No. 30, 2008), Jack Campbell (Stars, No. 11, 2010) and Jake Oettinger (Stars, No. 26, 2017).

"You do think about it, and if I told you I didn't I'd probably be lying," Knight said of potentially being a first-round pick. "You do think about all the different ways it could go, but I think the biggest thing is to worry about the small things, the every-day things. It's very cliché but it's true. You do have to focus on one day at a time and enjoy the process because all these things only come around once. You only play in this (All-American Prospects Game) once, you only get drafted once."

Knight will continue to work on his game this season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team. Among those pushing him will be forward Jack Hughes, expected to be the first player picked at the 2019 draft.

Hughes was on Team Leopold on Wednesday, and Knight made four saves on Hughes shots.

"I'm fortunate enough to be able to go against (Hughes) every day at practice, which is great," Knight said. "He's great competition. I think the biggest thing with him is he can almost do anything. He can shoot it, pass it, deke, he's a very versatile player with a lot of things he can do so you don't know what's coming, so it's pretty hard."

Knight calls himself a technical goalie, and at 6-foot -3, 197 pounds, he can use his athleticism and size to his advantage. The aspect of his game he wants to improve on though is moving less.

"It sounds weird but you don't have to move that much," Knight said. "With my size there's not a lot of space for a player to shoot at. You have to trust your angles and positions and know there's not a lot there for them to get a puck in. That's how I'm going to be efficient. I need to remain calm and move less."

It's that calm demeanor that impressed Langenbrunner most, and the characteristic that he anticipates will take Knight to the next level.

"He has such poise in the net," said Langenbrunner, who played 18 NHL seasons and now is player development coordinator for the Boston Bruins. "He looks like he's got a chance to be something pretty special. The way he carries himself screams No. 1 goalie at some point."

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