As the 2019 NHL Entry Draft approaches, the Los Angeles Kings have their work cut out for them, including making decisions on two first-round picks: the fifth pick and the 22nd pick, thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs. From now until the draft, the staff of Jewels from the Crown will be taking a look at some draft-eligible players to help introduce some young men who could very possibly be future Kings.
“With the twenty-second pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings select, from Boston College, Spencer Knight.”
In late 2017, GM Rob Blake emphasized that rebuilding the goaltending pipeline was a clear focus last off-season (Jewels even reported on this last season). With that plan in place, Knight would slot into this vision nicely at pick twenty-two. He’s a brilliant butterfly goaltender who is calm and comes with side-to-side explosiveness. But, before we get into the strengths and weaknesses, let’s get the basics out of the way…
HOCKEY CARD STATS
Born: April 19, 2001 (Age 18)
Place of Birth: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 198 lbs.
2019-20 Team: Boston College
#1—NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (North American Goaltenders)
Known for eating up rebounds and being a great communicator, Knight is big and plays bigger, challenging shooters well outside of the net, playing in an uncanny ESP zone. He seldom gets caught flopping around in the crease and his compact, butterfly style tricks shooters more often than not.
Knight’s legs are a formidable force inside the game, allowing him to take away chances at the bottom of the net. He plays under control and his puck tracking is well ahead of the learning curve. He possesses an exceptionally quick glove hand and his stickhandling skills lead his defense to start the transition game.
Adding to his impressive skill set is his composure under fire. Teammates speak about his leadership abilities and how he becomes a strength center in time of adversity.
It’s said that drafting a goalie in the first round should only be strictly reserved for the transformative prospect. The list of USA-born goalies drafted in this spot (see below) seems to prove that out.
An area that is not Knight’s issue, but is still a weakness is that the salary cap has forced top goaltenders to be drafted much lower than in pre-cap years. This is due to the traditional long development of goalies and the need to have production players on entry-level contracts to manage the salary cap. That being said, he has solidified his position as the best goalie prospect in this draft class.
One problematic concern is Knight improving his focus. When he does not face a lot of shots—as is typical with the dominant USNTDP performance each season—he has a tendency to be slow to gear up. As seen nightly in the NHL, a flurry of shots come out of nowhere and he needs to be pinpoint sharp at all times.
“He has such poise in the net. 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.” —Jamie Langenbrunner, 18-year NHLer and now player development coordinator for the Boston Bruins
WHY THE KINGS SHOULD TAKE A CHANCE
Have we mentioned before that the Kings want to fill their goalie pipeline? If not, stop me if this sounds familiar:
“US-born goalie with explosive side-to-side skills, plays well under pressure, knows where the puck is going before it’s even shot, and when he’s on, he can steal games.”
Although Knight is supposed to be the next Carey Price, he sounds a lot like the next Jonathan Quick. I mean, who doesn’t want a goalie with this type of pedigree? Think about the glory of turning Jake Muzzin into Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi and the next Carey Price/Jonathan Quick.
USA GOALIES DRAFTED IN THE FIRST ROUND
If Knight is tabbed in the first round, it would be the tenth time that a US-born goaltender has been selected. Here’s the big 10:
1983, #5 pick—Tom Barrasso (Buffalo Sabres)
1995, #22 pick—Brian Boucher (Philadelphia Flyers)
2000, #1 pick—Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders)
2001, #26 pick—Jason Bacashihua (Dallas Stars)
2004, #6 pick—Al Montoya (New York Rangers)
2004, #26 pick—Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks)
2008, #30 pick—Tom McCollum (Detroit Red Wings)
2010, #11 pick—Jack Campbell (Dallas Stars)
2017, #26 pick—Jake Oettinger (Dallas Stars)