After making the bold move of taking potential franchise goaltender Spencer Knight in the first round and getting good value with defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok in the second, the Florida Panthers went off script the rest of the way according to some draft pundits, who weren’t exactly in love with most of the club’s Day Two picks.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman gave the Panthers a C.
I didn’t mind Florida’s Day 2 but wasn’t enamored by it at the same time. Vladislav Kolyachonok is a good prospect who could play in the NHL. Henrik Rybinski, Owen Lindmark and Carter Berger were guys that scouts I talked to were high on, even if I share those sentiments only to varying degrees. The Panthers’ draft will come down to the goalie, Spencer Knight, at 13-overall. It’s a gamble and it’s why I don’t give them a high grade because personally it’s a risk I wouldn’t take, even if I think Knight is a heck of a goalie.
Steve Silverman at Bleacher Report was a little kinder, giving the Cats a B grade.
Knight certainly got his share of big-game experience playing for the U.S. national team, and he has shown the ability to make the big save. He is always well-positioned, has excellent athleticism and doesn’t waste movement. Head coach Joel Quenneville will probably need Knight up with the big club sooner rather than later.
Rotoworld’s Corey Abbott was also in the B range, giving the Panthers a B-.
You don’t see many teams draft for need in the NHL, but the selection of Knight makes a lot of sense for the Panthers. Florida appears to be poised to move on from Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, but there isn’t much organizational depth in the crease. Knight, who was the top goaltender in this draft, will provide some much-needed organizational depth and he could be the team’s future number one puck stopper. Sam Montembeault and Ryan Bednard will probably be given more time to develop in the minors. Knight shouldn’t have a problem surpassing them once he turns pro. He is slated to play for Boston College next season, though.
The Panthers snatched up Vladislav Kolyachonok in the second round with the 52nd overall pick. The Belarusian defenseman was one of the better players available going into Day 2 of the draft. He skates very well, has good size and plays a solid two-way game.
Steve Kournianos of The Sporting News gave the Cats an A for selecting Knight.
After a year full of speculation and prognosticating, Knight becomes the highest goalie taken in the first round since Jack Campbell went 11th overall in 2010. Knight is as technically superior a goalie you’ll find in a teenager. Has Carey Price’s positioning, Jonathan Quick’s reflexes and Ron Hextall’s wrists. Forget recent goalie trends - every team should have coveted him and he would have been top five in any draft prior to 2010 or 2011.
If I come across more reviews of the Panthers latest draft class I will add them, or feel free to post them in the comments section if you come across them first. It’s still early on Sunday so there is not a lot out there on the internet as of yet. A lot of how this draft will be viewed in hindsight will hinge on Knight as drafting a goalie on Friday has fallen out of vogue.
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If you weren’t that happy with the draft class or you are one of those just doesn’t have much interest, there is this:
NHL UFA speaking period opens Sunday. Coveted free agent goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin will be in FLA to meet with the Panthers on Monday. FLA would like to sign both but need a goalie more than a forward so the priority may be Bob.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 22, 2019