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Knight Among Panthers Prospects Off to Hot Starts in 2019-20

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Only one week into his collegiate career and Spencer Knight is already earning accolades.

Just a few months after being selected by the Florida Panthers with 13th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the gifted 18-year-old goaltender was named Hockey East's Rookie of the Week on Monday after backstopping Boston College to its first 2-0-0 start since the 2011-12 season.

In his first start of the season on Friday, Knight made 23 saves to lead the No. 6 Eagles to a 5-3 win over No. 17 Wisconsin. On Sunday, the fantastic freshman was even better, earning the first shutout of his burgeoning career with a flawless 39-save performance in a 3-0 win at Colgate.

Tweet from @BCHockey: For the first time since the 2011-12 season, the Eags are 2-0!#WeAreBC🦅 pic.twitter.com/7Ju8HDZEjx

Through two starts, Knight boasts a 1.50 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

"I'm just going to play BC hockey," Knight said at Florida's development camp in June. "I'm not going to really look past that. When I'm at BC, I'm only going to worry about playing hockey at BC. I'm going to enjoy it. I really want to win a national championship."

Making Knight's life a bit easier has been the play of two other Panthers prospects.

Forward Logan Hutsko, a third-round pick in the 2018, has kicked off his junior campaign at Boston College with a goal and an assist, while defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein, a seventh-round pick in 2016, has registered an assist and a plus-5 rating as a senior on the blue line.

"We're really, really lucky to get him," Hutsko said of Knight at D-camp. "I've read a lot of stuff on the internet, like that he's one of the best goalie prospects of all-time. The coaching staff did a great job recruiting a really good freshman class to come in this year. He's a great player from what I've seen. It's been great getting to know him. I'm really excited to play with him this year."

In addition to the BC boys, here are some other Panthers prospects off to hot starts in 2019-20.

Max Gildon

Team: New Hampshire, NCAA

Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft, 3rd round (66th overall)

Gildon is already back to his old tricks on the power play.

In the early goings of his junior campaign, the 20-year-old defenseman currently ranks tied for second on the Wildcats in scoring with four points (one goal, three assists) in four games. Of those points, three have come with the man advantage. On Oct. 12, he scored his first power-play goal of the season and also had an assist as New Hampshire ended up tying Miami (Ohio) 4-4.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: 🚨🚨Talk about beat the clock. New Hampshire scores a goal with less than one second remaining in the middle twenty. Former #NTDP player Max Gildon ignites the play with the stretch pass with 4 seconds to go and Charlie Kelleher finishes. #BeTheRoar #FlaPanthers pic.twitter.com/MgZihNtYzR

Named Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday along with UMASS-Lowell goaltender Tyler Wall, Gildon's four points are currently tied for third-most among all NCAA blueliners. The honor stands out as the third Hockey East weekly award of his career.

In 2018-19, Gildon led all Wildcats defensemen in goals (6), assists (15) and points (21).

Chris Wilkie

Team: Colorado College, NCAA

Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft, 6th Round (162nd overall)

Wilkie has hit the ground running during his final season with the Tigers. In last weekend's two-game series against Minnesota that kicked off the regular season, the redshirt senior registered three goals - including his first multi-goal game with Colorado - and two assists for five points.

For his efforts, he was named the Co-Forward of the Week in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference on Monday morning, sharing the honor with Gordie Green of Miami (Ohio) University.

After transferring from North Dakota to Colorado, Wilkie was forced to sit out the entire 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules. When he finally returned to the ice in 2018-19, he produced at just under a point-per-game pace, amassing 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 20 games.

Wilkie, 24, currently leads the Tigers in goals (3) and is tied for most points (5).

Karch Bachman

Team: Miami (Ohio), NCAA

Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft, 5th round (132nd overall)

Named to the NCHC Academic All-Conference Team during each of his first three seasons at Miami (Ohio), Bachman's also been receiving high marks on the ice at the outset of his senior season.

The 22-year-old forward opened up his final collegiate campaign with two goals - including one on the power play -- in a 7-4 loss to Bowling Green on Oct. 6. Through three games, Bachman currently ranks second on the RedHawks in scoring with four points (two goals, two assists).

Tweet from @MiamiOH_Hockey: Here's Bachman's goal to pull us within one late.#RiseUpRedHawks pic.twitter.com/XNkbicDC9r

As a junior in 2018-19, Bachman scored a career-high 10 goals in 38 games.

Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint, OHL

Acquired: 2019 NHL Draft, 2nd round (52nd overall)

Kolyachonok has turned a solid training camp in Florida into a very good start in Flint.

After inking a three-year, entry-level contract with the Panthers in September, the 18-year-old defenseman has been nearly a point-per-game player since returning to his junior club. Leading the Firebirds in scoring from the blue line, he's tallied one goal and five assists in seven games.

Tweet from @FlintFirebirds: 🚨 FIREBIRDS GOAL 2���@kolyachonok gets his first of the season after a ripper from the blueline! @evan_vierling and @10robertshky pick up the assists. 6:41 remaining in the first. | #SARvsFLNT pic.twitter.com/kupxhQA9nP

Held off the scoresheet in his first game of the season, Kolyachonok pieced together a four-game point streak from Sept. 21 through Oct. 4, racking up one goal and four assists in that span to help Flint to a 4-0-0 record. Behind that stellar run, the Firebirds currently sit at 5-2-0.

A native of Belarus, Kolyachonok had 29 points in 53 games as a rookie with Flint in 2018-19.

John Ludvig

Team: Portland, WHL

Acquired: 2019 NHL Draft, 3rd round (69th overall)

That "C" is looking pretty good on Ludvig's sweater.

Announced as the 44th captain in Portland's history on Sept. 20, the 19-year-old defenseman has been lighting up the WHL ever since. Through nine games, he currently leads the league's defenseman in both goals (6) and points (11). His 11 points also pace all Winterhawks skaters.

Ludvig has been a model of consistency on the blue line to start his third junior campaign. He's registered at least a point in eight of nine games thus far, including three multi-point contests.

Tweet from @pdxwinterhawks: 🚨GOAL🚨Captain Ludvig on the Powerplay! 3-0 Winterhawks#LetsGoHawks || #RDvsPOR pic.twitter.com/y1bua7pEc0

On Oct. 9, he was awarded first-star honors after scoring the game-winning goal in a 6-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos. In addition to his goal, he also added an assist and four shots.

In 2018-19, Ludvig appeared in 58 games with Portland, recording five goals, 13 assists and a career-high 77 penalty minutes. Looking at his penalties, eight came as the result of a fight.

Serron Noel

Team: Oshawa, OHL

Acquired: 2018 NHL Draft, 2nd round (34th overall)

After sitting out the first five games of the season, Noel has been very active on offense since returning to Oshawa's lineup on Oct. 5, producing three goals and two assists in four games.

In his first game back, the 19-year-old forward earned second-star honors after posting a goal and two assists to lead the Generals to a 6-4 win over Hamilton. The next game he was even better, scoring two goals - including the game-winner - in a 4-3 win against Saginaw on Oct. 6.

Tweet from @GeneralsUpdates: Here are @Serron_Noel's 2 goals from tonight. He has 3 G/2A for 5 points in his first 2 #OHL games this season nowAlso, the bird celly is here to stay#FLAPanthers #Gens pic.twitter.com/TWuN2LUfb7

Named Oshawa's top forward in 2018-19, Noel, who inked a three-year, entry-level deal with Florida on March 8, is coming off a strong season in which he set new career-highs in goals (34), assists (47) and points (81) in 68 contests.

With Noel's help, Oshawa is currently the only undefeated team in the OHL at 9-0-0.

Cole Schwindt

Team: Mississauga, OHL

Acquired: 2019 NHL Draft, 3rd round (81st overall)

Schwindt has been playing like a man possessed during his third season with the Steelheads.

Tied for the team-scoring lead with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) through eight games, the 18-year-old forward has cracked the scoresheet in all but two games to start the season. On Sept. 27, he notched a season-high three points (one goal, two assists) in a 5-4 loss to Oshawa.

Tweet from @EPRinkside: Check out this no-look feed from @FlaPanthers prospect Cole Schwindt, setting up his @OHLSteelheads teammate for a goal on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/u8ZddnbCGk

In 68 games with the Steelheads in 2018-19, Schwindt saw career-highs in goals (19), assists (30) and points (49). A steady hand in the faceoff dot, he also won 52.9 percent of his draws.

So far this season, Schwindt has gone 85-for-168 (50.1 percent) in the circle.

Justin Schütz

Team: EHC München, DEL

Acquired: 2018 NHL Draft, 6th round (170th overall)

Schütz's first season playing against grown men is going according to plan.

Playing overseas in the DEL, Germany's top professional league, the 19-year-old forward has accumulated three goals and three assists to help München to a perfect 11-0-0 record to start. Among players under the age of 20, Schütz's six points currently rank third in the league.

Tweet from @RedBullMuenchen: #RBMvsWOB 2:1 (28.) 🚨Tooooooor! Feiner Treffer zur erneuten F��hrung durch @justinschuetz10. Maxi Kastner mit dem Assists. pic.twitter.com/02iIZ0e1YO

In 2018-19, Schütz spent the majority of the season playing junior hockey with EC Salzburg II in the Alps Hockey League. With Salzburg, he scored 12 goals and added 16 assists in 25 games.

*Note: This list does not include prospects currently competing in either the NHL or AHL.

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