Knight Eyes Return to the NHL

Sunday, July 2, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Knight signs two-year contract to return to Flyers organization

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

Corban Knight couldn't obtain an NHL contract last summer and settled on an AHL deal with Lehigh Valley last September, but this time around Knight is back on the NHL radar - signing a two-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday to remain in the organization.

"Yeah, it's nice. Obviously it's a lot different than last summer. Last summer was pretty hard - just kind of waiting and not really knowing what was going to happen so it's nice to get this done," Knight explained via phone Saturday afternoon. "I'm really excited to be back in the organization. It was a great organization to be a part of last year, and I'm really pumped to be coming back in the fall."

Back on an NHL deal, Knight has his sights set on making the Flyers roster out of training camp - seeing an open spot or two up for grabs with a role that matches his identity to a tee.

"That was one of the things that was so enticing about coming back - being back on an NHL deal and obviously there's going to be a spot or two available right out of camp," Knight said, adding, "Just having the ability to come into camp and know you're fighting for a spot it adds a little bit of motivation and excitement. That was really exciting for me to get back on an NHL deal and to try to earn my spot with the Flyers."

While on an AHL-only deal last season, Knight was a dependable forward that Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon was comfortable playing in all situations and at all three forward positions.

"I was put in a lot of different positions [this past season] and I think I learned a lot about it," Knight said. "I think in the end, it helped me out. Versatility is something that can help you, especially when you're in a bottom six role - whether you're in the NHL or AHL - having that ability to play wing or move to the center that definitely helps. For me, that was something I tried to work on this past year - try to be solid on the wing and obviously down the middle which is my natural position. There's some learning curves along the way, but I think overall I really learned a lot and improved my versatility this year."

In a secondary scoring role, Knight reached the 40-point mark (11 goals, 29 assists) in 72 games while also serving as one of the team's top penalty-killing forwards - routinely sent out against the opposing teams' top offensive players.

"I think last year was a big step for me," Knight explained. "Being put more into a defensive role - a penalty killing role - especially the first half of the year, and I took a lot of pride in that and tried to improve on that and I think I did."

The role and way Knight played last season clearly opened some eyes up top, as he was quickly re-signed this summer to remain in the organization. Perhaps losing a penalty-killing forward from last year's NHL roster in Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare (expansion draft) has opened the door for Knight to not only remain in the organization, but push for a spot on the NHL roster this fall in training camp.

"I know for me, if I ever want to get to the NHL and be there as an everyday guy, it's going to be in that bottom-six kind of shutdown penalty killing role. And that's fine with me - I've embraced that and tried to improve on it," Knight said. "I know coming into camp that's going to be what they're looking for. Last year was a big year for me and for my identity as a player."

Knight explained that it took him some time upon turning pro to truly figure out his identity as a player, and what kind of style best suited him for his best chance to make the NHL.

A four-year standout at the University of North Dakota from 2009-2013, and the Florida Panthers' 5th round draft pick in 2009, Knight went unsigned with the Panthers organization and was traded to his hometown NHL team in Calgary - turning pro and appearing in seven NHL games with the Flames in his rookie season.

Interestingly enough, the Panthers wanted Knight back not even two seasons later - trading Drew Shore to re-acquire Knight in January of 2015 where he finished that season in the AHL with their then-affiliate in San Antonio.

The following season in 2015-16, Knight split the year between the NHL with Florida and the AHL with Portland - appearing in 20 NHL games with the Panthers, recording two goals and five assists as a fourth line center.

Upon becoming a free agent at the end of that season, Knight waited and waited the entire summer of 2016 before signing an AHL contract with the Phantoms prior to last season.

While Knight has his sights set on making the Flyers out of training camp, the disappointment if he doesn't make the NHL roster this fall won't hold him down for long - if at all.

"That's the exciting thing. Obviously the goal is to make Philadelphia out of camp, but if it does happen where you find yourself back in Lehigh Valley I think it's going to be a very exciting and fun team to be around," Knight said of the upcoming season for Lehigh Valley.

"We took a lot away from last year with making the playoffs and the hard fought series with Hershey there. The guys that will be back will have a lot more experience and understand what it takes. It's great to see them reloading with guys because it's a great market and the support there is incredible. You want to have a competitive team, and it's great to see the Flyers and the Phantoms kind of taking that initiative and reloading."


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