Florida Panthers Sign Two College Prospects

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Florida Panthers
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Spencer Knight poses for a portrait after being selected thirteenth overall by the Florida Panthers during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers continued to add to their talent pool as they officially signed their prized prospect in goaltender Spencer Knight. Knight was not their only signing of the day as they also signed the former University of North Dakota defenseman Matt Kiersted. With these two players now in their organization they should be a very important piece to the Florida Panthers’ success now and in the future. 

Who Is Spencer Knight?

Some people might recognize Knight as the Florida Panthers’ first pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft, the freshman sensation at Boston College, or the goalie that helped Team USA win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2021. 

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Knight first started gaining attention from scout during his time with Avon Old Farms. Avon Old Farms is a high school that has some of the most elite hockey players in the northeast of the USA come and play for them. During the 2016-17 season Knight played 22 games for Avon Old Farms and amassed a 1.89 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. 

These incredible numbers got the attention of USA hockey as they made him the starting goalie in four different World Juniors tournaments. He played for both the under 18 team and the under 20 for the United States. Knight suited up in his first tournament with the under 18 team during the 2017-18 tournament. he played five games and earned a 2.42 goals-against to go along with his .901 save percentage. Knight’s contributions to the team helped them take home the Silver Medal. 

In his second tournament with Team USA Knight played in six games earning a 1.51 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. Despite his insane statistics which were the best in the tournament the team was unable to capture the gold medal but they were able to win a Bronze medal. 

The 2019-2020 season marked the first time that Knight played for the USA under 20 team and played College Hockey for Boston College. His college stats during his freshman season were much better than his stats in his first under 20 tournament. For Team USA he earned an underwhelming 2.49 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in four games.

Team USA was not very successful as they were unable to earn a medal during the tournament but Boston College had a very successful campaign powered by Knight. The freshman sensation played 33 games for Boston College Eagles and put some ridiculous numbers together. He earned a 1.97 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He was honored with being named NCAA Hockey East All-Rookie Team, Second All-Star Team, and NCAA New England Division one All-Star.

In a strange turn of events, Knight’s statistics seemed to flip as his save percentage and goals-against average for Team USA were much better than his stats at Boston College. With the Eagles, he played just 21 games and earned a 2.18 goals-against average and .932. His play for the Eagles earned him numerous honors such as NCAA Hockey East goaltender of the year, NCAA Hockey East player of the year, NCAA Hockey East first All-Star team, and a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. Despite earning all of these prestigious awards the most memorable event of the 2020-21 season will be winning the gold medal alongside his fellow Team USA teammates. 

After a magnificent four appearances with Team USA and an amazing two-year college career, Knight becomes the third member of the 2021 gold medal-winning team to sign their entry-level contracts. Cole Caufield and Matt Boldy were the first two members of the 2021 Team USA championship teams to sign their entry-level contracts. Caufield signed with the Montreal Canadiens and Boldy signed with the Minnesota Wild. Caufield and Boldy will both start their professional hockey careers in the AHL but Knight will start his career on the Panthers taxi squad. 

Who Is Matt Kiersted? 

The newest Panthers defenseman is not as decorated as fellow Panthers signee Knight but Matt Kiersted is still a great player that should make a positive impact on the Panthers blueline. Kiersted is a four your veteran of the University of North Dakota. During his time at North Dakota, Kiersted showed that he was a point producer on the ice and was a good leader on and off the ice as he was an assistant captain during his junior and senior seasons.

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In his four years at North Dakota, Kiersted’s on-ice production continued to progress and show his improvement. As a freshman during the 2017-2018 season, Kiersted played in 29 games and produced just eight points. Half of his points were goals. His sophomore season saw an increase in games played and point production. He played 36 games in his sophomore campaign and his point production increased by 10 points. With 18 points as a sophomore, Kiersted was really starting to show his value but he was still getting better. 

Kiersted had his best season of college hockey in his junior season when he played 33 games and scored six goals to go along with 23 assists. The 29 points in a season are his collegiate career-high for points. Kiersted continued his strong play in his senior season as he played 29 games and scored 22 points including 3 goals. 

While Kiersted may not have the statistics that pop off the score sheet like other college players such as teammate Knight he will be a solid addition to the Florida Panthers organization. 

Final Thoughts on Spencer Knight and Matt Kiersted Signing With the Florida Panthers

The Panthers certainly look like they have found himself a gem in the 2019 NHL draft. The former 13th overall pick, Knight has accomplished some amazing feats such as earning incredible numbers for the Boston College Eagles during his two seasons, participating in four World Junior Championships, and helping Team USA win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2021. Knight will start his pro hockey career on the Panthers taxi squad and might make an appearance in a few games. 

The other Panthers signing, Kiersted will also be an important addition to the Panthers lineup. He should provide solid defense and be a much-needed point-producing from the blue line.

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