The Florida Panthers locked up their goaltender of the future Tuesday, signing Spencer Knight to a four-year, $13.5 million extension.
The 21-year-old goaltender, who was set to grow to be a restricted free agent on the finish of the 2022-23 NHL season, will probably be the Panthers backup this yr, however he’s additionally a budding star after he closed out the 2021-22 NHL season with a .921 save proportion in his remaining 14 appearances.
“Spencer is an outstanding goaltender, in addition to an distinctive athlete and individual,” basic supervisor Bill Zito stated in a press release. “He has thrived in his skilled profession, dedicating himself to his coaching by his first two seasons with our group. With this extension, we’re excited concerning the current and way forward for Panthers goaltending.”
Florida took Knight with the No. 13 total choose within the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and he has, to date, managed to even exceed these lofty expectations. He shut out Canada within the remaining of the 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships to win the United States a gold medal, was then a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as a sophomore for the Boston College Eagles and initially signed his entry-level contract with the Panthers later in 2021, simply after his sophomore season ended.
He made his debut for Florida at simply 20, after which was surprisingly thrown into internet through the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs after fellow goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger, now with the Seattle Kraken, faltered. In his first postseason sport, Knight stopped 36 of 37 photographs from the eventual-champion Tampa Bay Lightning and grow to be the second youngest goalie in NHL historical past to win in his playoff debut.
He has additionally, nonetheless, been principally blocked by Bobrovsky for the final year-plus. Less than two weeks after they took Knight within the first spherical of the 2019 NHL Draft, the Panthers signed Bobrovsky to an enormous seven-year, $70 million contract.
Although he struggled for the primary two years of the deal, Bobrovsky bounced again final season to steer the league in saves, maintaining Knight from ever severely difficult him for the beginning job. Knight, who started the season with Calder Memorial Trophy aspirations, wound up splitting his rookie season between the Panthers and AHL Charlotte.
This yr, they need to kind among the best goalie tandems within the NHL, with Knight offering insurance coverage for Florida’s notoriously streaky starter and Bobrovsky nonetheless letting Knight keep away from a full-time NHL workload at simply 21. The extension additionally means the Panthers solely have about half a dozen NHL-caliber gamers resulting from grow to be free brokers on the finish of the season.
For now, it’s an ideal state of affairs for Florida, with Knight nonetheless making solely about $900,000 on his entry-level deal. Next yr, the Panthers can have trickier selections to make, with $14.5 million in cap area tied up by their goaltenders alone and, at the moment, solely about $11.3 million in projected room. Both Bobrovsky and Knight can have three seasons left on their deal, resulting from grow to be free brokers in 2026, though Knight, even then, will solely be a restricted free agent.
Currently, no goalie tandem within the NHL is making even $11 million combined, assuming Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price begins the season on long-term injured reserve.