Former UND standout Knight hopes penalty kill abilities land him a spot on Flyers roster
GRAND FORKS—Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol greeted some of his former University of North Dakota players as they skated off the ice Tuesday afternoon in Ralph Engelstad Arena's Olympic Rink.
Next month, Hakstol will be watching one of those players closely on the ice.
Corban Knight, who is back on campus this week working out at UND's pro camp, will soon head to Flyers training camp hoping to win a roster spot with the NHL club.
Knight hasn't played in the NHL since the 2015-16 season, but there may be an opportunity for him this fall.
Philadelphia finished 29th of 31 teams in the NHL last season on the penalty kill (75.8 percent), and may need some help in that category.
Although Knight was known for being a dynamic offensive player at UND—he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior—he has consistently excelled as a penalty killer, faceoff winner and two-way player throughout his playing career.
"I think, for me, if I'm going to make it, it's going to be as a penalty killer and as a shutdown guy," Knight said. "I think I can go to camp and make sure I'm good on the penalty kill, responsible defensively and play with a little bit of grit. Those are the things I'm focusing on heading to camp and preparing for that role.
"In college, I prided myself on playing a two-way game. In pro, there are so many high-end players who play that top-six scoring role, you find out pretty quick whether you're able to do it. For me, I didn't think it's something I can make an NHL career out of, so the last couple years, I've tried to adapt my game a little bit to become that shutdown guy. It's not the hardest thing ever. It's more of a mentality. You have to be very detailed. It's not always the flashy stuff you get noticed for, but those are the things you have to do at the NHL level."
Knight is on the final year of his contract with the Flyers.
He has played for their top minor-league club, Lehigh Valley in the American Hockey League, for the last two seasons. He tallied 14 goals and 37 points in 58 games last season.
"It's always exciting this time of year, getting geared up and ready to go to camp" said Knight, who is entering his sixth professional season. "It's weird to think that I'm almost becoming a veteran at these things now. You still get those butterflies thinking about it.
"I think there's going to be an opportunity at camp for some guys to win spots. You need to go in there and control what you can control and hopefully get some good breaks or have someone look at you favorably."
Knight is one of several former UND players on campus this week for a pro camp. The camp continues with sessions at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday in Ralph Engelstad Arena's Olympic Rink. Those sessions are open to the public.
"It's great coming back here and being on campus again," Knight said. "Being back in The Ralph, especially with this group we have, it's the first year we've done it and we have a great turnout. It brings back memories being in this facility. I'm very fortunate to be here and everyone's excited to get going again."