June 17 2013 11:07PM
Corban Knight via the NCHC blog.
Over the weekend the Nation Network's Jason Gregor interviewed unsigned Florida Panthers draft pick Corban Knight in a column for the Edmonton Journal. In that piece Corban Knight revealed that he, a Florida Panthers fifth round pick in the 2009 NHL draft, intended to hit free-agency. Since 2009 Florida has retained exclusive negotiating rights to Knight because he was a bonafide student through to his graduation this spring. The deadline to sign "bonafide students" after their graduation from an NCAA school is on August 15th of the league year, so that means Corban Knight will randomly become an unrestricted free-agent in the middle of August.
Knight was ranked as the fourth best prospect in the deep Florida Panthers system last summer by Corey Pronman of ESPN Insider and Hockey Prospectus. Knight's an aspiring face-off ace who has produced at a point per game rate in American college hockey ever since he became a sophmore. So yeah, Knight - who is listed as being born in the fruit stand capital of the world a.k.a. Oliver, British Columbia but is actually a resident of High River, Alberta - is likely to have some suitors this summer.
One of those suitors will probably be the Canucks, an NHL team that Corban Knight appears to cheer for. Read past the jump.
Here's Corban Knight giving an otherwise not noteworthy interview for fightingsioux.com while wearing a Canucks jersey in January of 2011:
And here's one of Corban Knight's college teammates - Edmonton Oilers prospect Dillon Simpson - beaking Knight on June 17th, 2011 (two days following the Canucks's game seven loss to the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, a loss which resulted in mass riots in downtown Vancouver).
So Corban Knight's birth certificate says "British Columbia" on it, there's a fair bit of public evidence that he is (or was recently) a Canucks fan, and he styles himself as a two-way, third-line centre and face-off ace. Sound like something the Canucks could use?
Of course just because a guy was born in a certain region and rooted for that region's professional hockey team while growing up, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll choose an offer from that same team when presented with several from a variety of National Hockey League organizations. Career choices like the one facing young Mr. Knight this August are all about the "fit", and maybe an opportunity with the Canucks and Comets doesn't sounds as appealing as one with, say, Edmonton and Oklahoma for whatever reason.
The Canucks and Oilers were rumoured to have recently gone head-to-head in bidding on the services of goaltender Joacim Eriksson, who signed with the Canucks this past weekend. Of course, the summer before it was West Kelowna's Justin Schultz spurning the aging team he rooted for growing up to join a ridiculously talented young core in Edmonton. Will the competition for Knight's services represent the prospect recruitment rubber match between the two Western Canadian clubs?
Update: Or maybe, in a surprise twist, Knight will instead be dealt to the Flames and sign there. Damn you M. Night Shymalan, damn you.
As we said, fandom might not mean much to a player making a critical career choice. The Flames acquired the rights to Corban Knight early on Tuesday morning and by the afternoon has signed him to a two-year entry-level contract according to Bob McKenzie:
Not clear yet whether Corban Knight becomes UFA on July 1st or 5th but won't matter - agreed to terms on 2-yr entry level deal with CGY.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 18, 2013
Moreover, it doesn't seem like the Canucks were event finalists for his services:
Battle for Knight's rights came down to CGY and EDM. The High River, Alta., native opted for the Flames over the Oilers. Plays centre.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 18, 2013
I'd apologize to you for getting your hopes up, but honestly, I regret nothing.