Last night, Jason Gregor of the Edmonton Journal broke the news that, according to his sources, the Oilers are one of the teams interested in signing college free agent Corban Knight. Knight is a big (6’2″, 200) two-way center, which currently is an area of need for the Oilers. Gregor writes,
One player that few are talking about is pending free agent Corban Knight. Don’t bother scanning the free-agent list because he isn’t on it. The Florida Panthers drafted him in the fifth round (139th) of the 2009 entry draft, but he’s spent the past four seasons developing his game at the University of North Dakota.
“I’m a two-way centreman who takes pride in both ends of the ice, but I take a lot of pride in the defensive zone,” the six-foot-two, 195-pound centreman said when asked to describe his game.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve become a faceoff specialist, if you call it that, and I’ve worked extremely hard in that area,” the 22-year-old, right-shooter said. “I take a lot of pride in my faceoffs. I have a little bit of offensive upside, but if I’m hoping to play in the NHL it will be as a reliable two-way, third-line centre.”
Last August, Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus ranked Knight as the Panthers’ fourth-best prospect. That’s not bad considering that the Panthers were number one in Pronman’s organizational rankings. With the news of Knight’s upcoming free agency, Pronman has added another article on him. Here’s his assessemnt of Knight.
Year in Review: Knight finished off his college career with an exclamation mark, as he was one of the best two-way players in the country and was named a Hobey Baker finalist for best college player.
The Good: Knight is a great puck possessor who displays puck skills to go along with very good hockey sense at both ends. He may not be the flashiest player in the world, but the talent is unquestionably there and he can consistently show top-end playmaking skill as a passer. Knight is also a hard working, aware defensive player and a face off ace who drew hard assignments for North Dakota and was still one of the best offensive players in the country.
The Bad: Knight doesn’t have a glaring issue in his game other than his skating is roughly average. While he moves fine he won’t blaze past anyone.
Projection: He could be a good #2 center who logs tough minutes.
Last summer the Oilers were able to sign another coveted college free agent: defenseman Justin Schultz. If they were able to sign Knight this summer, once again an organizational need could be addressed in an unexpected way.