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By the Numbers: Panthers 1st-Round Pick Spencer Knight

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

VANCOUVER - It's been less than 24 hours, but the buzz has yet to die down.

Taking the stage with the 13th overall selection at the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday night at Rogers Arena, the Florida Panthers made a move that continues to garner praise from every corner of the hockey world, using their pick on a potential franchise talent in goaltender Spencer Knight.

"Hearing your name called is a dream come true," said Knight, the first goalie drafted in the top-15 since 2010. "It doesn't seem real, almost. Growing up, it's all you dream of. [The Panthers] are all great people. We had a lot of good conversations and made a good connection. Going into the draft, I had no expectations as to where I was going. I'm happy to be here, though."

The consensus No. 1 goaltender in this year's class, Knight became the first netminder drafted among the top 20 selections since Andrei Vasilevskiy went No. 19 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012. As close to a can't-miss prospect as you can get at such an unpredictable position, the 18-year-old supplements his impeccable technique with size and skill well beyond his years.

In 78 career games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team, he registered a 59-10-1 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

"I think this guy is a franchise-type goalie," Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon said. "I like his size. I like his athleticism. I like his composure, his hockey-sense. He handles the puck extremely well and has great positional play. He's very aggressive at the top of the crease."

Video: Florida Panthers 2019 NHL Draft: Spencer Knight

Want to know more? Well, here's a few numbers of note on Florida's newest goaltender:

0: The number of goalies selected before Knight. The top-ranked goaltender heading into this year's draft, he was the only netminder selected in Round 1 of the draft on Friday. He is also just the 20th goaltender to be drafted in the first round since 2003, joining a list that includes a bevy of future all-star netminders, such as Marc-Andre Fleury (1st overall, 2003), Carey Price (5th overall, 2005) Tuukka Rask (25th overall, 2005) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th overall, 2012).

"He reminds me of Carey Price with how very calm and poised he is," NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen told in May

"He just has that presence in the net like a veteran. I remember watching Carey his underage year, and the way [Knight] plays and his development at this stage is where I see him."

1: The number of goaltenders the Panthers have ever drafted in the first round. Although the club has scooped up 24 crease crusaders over its 26-year history, Knight is the only one to ever be taken in Round 1. However, they have used a second-round selection on a goaltender six times.

5: The amount of losses Knight endured with the NTDP in 2018-19. A steady hand behind an incredibly talented U-18 squad, he very rarely tasted defeat this past season, posting a 32-4-1 record with a 2.36 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 39 games.

11: Of the last 14 Stanley Cup champions, 11 have started a goaltender they've drafted. "It's the most important position," Tallon said of drafting a goaltender. "We hadn't had a lot of depth there for a few years, so it was important that we get a franchise-type goalie like this."

13: Knight's winning streak in the USHL in 2018-19. From Nov. 6, 2018 through March 30, 2019, he took home the "W" in 13 straight contests, including a 21-save shutout on March 1 against the Madison Capitols. In the end, he finished with a 15-1-0 record with the USNTDP Juniors club.

17: The number of times Boston College has qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1998. In joining the Eagles this fall, Knight will be continuing his development with one of the all-time best programs in college hockey. Since 2001, they have won four national championships. 

Tweet from @BCHockey: Spencer Knight (@slknight30) goes 13th overall to the @FlaPanthers, the highest drafted American goaltender since 2010!#NHLDraft | #WeAreBC 🦅

"A lot of great players come out of there," Tallon said when asked about Knight's school of choice. "They've had great success. They have great coaching. He'll have great competition there. A lot of players are playing in the NHL that went through those schools in the East."

30 & 35: Knight's jersey numbers in recent seasons.

59: Knight's wins over the past two seasons. No goaltender in NTDP history has ever won more games than the Darien, Connecticut native, whose 59 career victories are seven more than the next-highest mark. He also ranks fourth in the program for career goals-against average (2.46).

75: Inches. That's how tall Knight is (with his skates off!). A massive athletic specimen, his lanky limbs earned him the nickname "Squidward," after the SpongeBob SquarePants character. And if you take a close at his masks, you'll find a decal of the tentacled cartoon on the back of them. "He's been on all my helmets," Knight said, embracing the name. "One of my old coaches called me that because I had long legs. When I was trying to think of ideas for my helmet, I was just like, "Squidward!" I just put him on the back, and he's there. He's there all the time."

Tweet from @USAHockeyNTDP: Check out this week's @kroger Great Save of the Week courtesy of U18s goaltender Spencer Knight! Knight's saves helped the U18s come from behind to defeat the Chicago Steel, 5-4.

.936: Knight's outstanding save percentage at the 2019 U-18 IIHF World Junior Championship. Helping Team USA capture a bronze-medal finish in Sweden, he led all eligible goaltenders in both save percentage and goals-against average (1.51) in six games at the annual tournament.

3,421: The miles Knight will soon travel from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale. Making his first trip to South Florida since joining the Panthers, he is expected to take part in the organization's annual development camp at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs next week. The camp starts on Thursday and ends with an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday. While the camp roster has yet to be released, you can find the full schedule of events here. It's all free and open to the public! 

"I'm just going to take it year by year and not try to get ahead of myself," Knight said when asked about his development. "I'm trying to develop and focus on the now instead of looking down the road."

Want to welcome Knight to the Sunshine State yourself?

Give him a follow and show him some love on Twitter (@slknight30) and Instagram (@slknight35).

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