“Goalies are Voodoo” - Everyone
With the 30th selection in the 2019 SBNation NHL Mock Draft, Mile High Hockey is proud to select Spencer Knight - Goalie from the USNTDP U18.
After acquiring an extra second round pick (49th overall) earlier in the draft, we thought the best way to spend our draft capital was to trade back into the Top-30 to select the best goaltender in the draft a as he began to fall to the end of the first round.
The trade was 47th and 49th overall to the Stanley Cup Finalist Boston Bruins in exchange for their 2019 first overall selection. With the pick we’ve decided to add Knight to the previously selected Kirby Dach and Cam York to give us an unrivaled trio of first round picks in this draft.
Spencer Knight would instantly become the goalie of the future for the Colorado Avalanche. For a team that has been in search of a high-end goaltending prospect for a long while, it can’t be stressed enough that Knight would need time to develop - he’s at last three years away from the NHL. He is committed to playing for the Boston College Eagles next fall where he will have a chance to be a star for one of the top college programs.
Knight enters the draft as one of the best American-born goaltending prospects to ever come through the US National Team Development Program. There is no question that he will be the first netminder selected in the 2019 draft. In a league that has begun to shy away from taking goalies early in the draft, Knight most definitely has talent to be a first-round pick. Whichever team selects him could be adding a future franchise goaltender to their organization and at 30th overall, that’s would be too good to pass up.
What separates Knight from his peers in the draft class is his overall intelligence on the ice. For a player with tremendous physical tools, it’s his mind that is his greatest asset. He thinks the game better than most and that allows him to remain focused and consistent in a way not often seen from a teenager. He has a solid foundation all based on his high-end positioning, while still having the athleticism to get to the higher-danger scoring chances. He’s not overly flashy but that is because he so rarely has to scramble back into position to make a save. His size and focus allows him to track the puck well - a key to his high-end positional acumen.
Knight has a powerful lateral stride to cover post-to-post and while he plays more of a hybrid-style he has an excellent butterfly stance. He doesn’t flop in his crease and is always square to the shooter. He faces very few second and third opportunity shots, in part due to the strength of the team in front of him but also because of some very solid rebound control.
What the experts are saying
It’s not all that often that you find a goaltender who’s so distinctly ahead of the rest of his draft class both positionally and developmentally, but that’s exactly what Spencer Knight is. He plays with all of the poise and confidence of a goaltender already well into his career, yet he just turned 18 in April; that’s what makes him stand out more than anything, particularly when considering some of the other goaltenders in the draft class with good movement but more years of experience.
He’s not overly active when facing down a shot, but it’s because he already knows that he doesn’t need to be — and whether he’s playing on the world stage, against USHL teams, or in exhibition games against older college students, his game adapts well enough that it’s clear he’s got a strong read on the game no matter the pace. The only thing he’ll need to work on is staying out of his own way; if he continues to play the way he has leading up to his draft, he’ll be an NHL starter before too long. - Catherine Silverman, InGoal Media
“One of Spencer’s best characteristics is that he identifies a challenge - something he wants to achieve - and then he systematically breaks that challenge down and he won’t stop until he gets it. There’s no knee-jerk reactions. There’s a plan, he puts it in place, and he executes it.” - USNTDP head coach John Wroblewski
“I’ve worked with goalies for many years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid so physically and mentally ready for the next level than Spencer. I think ‘special’ is exactly what Spencer is.” - NTDP goaltending coach Thomas Speer
Goalies in the first round
Since Carey Price was drafted fifth overall in the 2005 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, there have only been a few goalies selected in the first round. Over the last decade-plus, the list of goaltenders picked in the first round is as follows:
- 2008 Chet Pickard (18th) by the Nashville Predators
- 2008 Thomas McCollum (30th) by the Detroit Red Wings
- 2010 Jack Campbell (11th) by the Dallas Stars
- 2010 Mark Visentin (27th) by the Phoenix Coyotes
- 2012 Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th) by the Tampa Bay Lightning
- 2012 Malcolm Subban (24th) by the Boston Bruins
- 2015 Ilya Samsonov (22nd) by the Washington Capitals
- 2017 Jake Oettinger (26th) by the Dallas Stars
Aside from Vasilevskiy (and maybe Oettinger) that’s a pretty ugly list. This shows just how hard it is to project 18-year old goaltenders and why taking one early in the draft is a huge risk.
Love Spencer Knight puckhandling skills pic.twitter.com/f3x7tcwKoz— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) April 22, 2019
Spencer Knight with the toe save and it was a beauty. Knight robs Max Wahlgren from in tight.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 7, 2018
His line mate thought for sure he scored and Wahlgren's smile and head shake after says it all. #NTDP #5NationsU18 pic.twitter.com/rjlUqqYpPJ
Fit for the Avalanche
With Philip Grubauer and Pavel Francouz at the NHL level, it’s no secret that the Avs need a prospect to look at as “the goaltender of the future.”
The team spent their second pick (64th overall) on Justus Annunen last summer and guys like Adam Werner and Spencer Martin will be hanging around in Loveland next season but none of those guys project to be close to the type of goalie Spencer Knight is.
Knight would be the guy the organization could point to as the future. He’s going to be an NHLer and has the potential to be the kind of star that drags teams behind him. There’s a lot of risk involved and he’s got a long way to go but if Knight is availible at the end of the first round, it would make all the sense in the world for the Avalanche to scoop him up.
SB Nation Mock Draft
- New Jersey Devils - Jack Hughes
- New York Rangers - Kaapo Kakko
- Chicago Blackhawks - Alex Turcotte
- Colorado Avalanche - Kirby Dach
- Los Angeles Kings - Dylan Cozens
- Detroit Red Wings - Bowen Byram
- Buffalo Sabres - Cole Caufield
- Edmonton Oilers - Peyton Krebs
- Anaheim Ducks - Trevor Zegras
- Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Boldy
- Philadelphia Flyers - Alex Newhook
- Minnesota Wild - Vasili Podkolzin
- Florida Panthers - Philip Broberg
- Arizona Coyotes - Victor Soderstrom
- Montreal Canadiens - Thomas Harley
- New York Rangers - Arthur Kaliyev
- Vegas Golden Knights - Raphael Lavoie
- Dallas Stars - Moritz Seider
- Ottawa Senators - Bobby Brink
- Colorado Avalanche - Cam York
- Pittsburgh Penguins - Nils Hoglander
- Los Angeles Kings - Matt Robertson
- New York Islanders - Ryan Suzuki
- Nashville Predators - Philip Tomasino
- Washington Capitals - Patrik Puistola
- Philadelphia Flyers - Ville Heinola
- Tampa Bay Lightning - Jakob Pelltier
- Carolina Hurricanes - Samuel Poulin
- Anaheim Ducks - Nathan Legare