Knight a finalist for AHL Man of the Year

Not much of a surprise for people around here, but Corban Knight has been named a finalist for the AHL’s Man of the Year Award.

Knight is the rep for the Abbotsford Heat, the top minor league team of the Calgary Flames.

The AHL posted a story about Knight. Read that here. Here’s a quote from Knight.

“If (complete strangers) can spend months helping rebuild our home, I can do something small like going to a school or a seniors’ home and hang out for an hour. It’s pretty important when you look at the big picture. It’s a very rewarding thing to see how much people appreciate you taking time out of your day to do that.”

Knight scores first NHL goal

Corban Knight scored his first NHL goal on Wednesday night for the Calgary Flames in a 7-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Knight’s first goal came in his fifth NHL game.

With 1:57 to go in the game, a puck was fired across to the high slot, where Knight picked it up and made a quick turnaround shot that hit the post and went in past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen.

The linesman accidentally threw Knight’s goal puck to a fan in the stands, but a Flames player went and traded his stick for the puck, which was retrieved for Knight.

Knight has strong debut

Corban Knight played just over 10 minutes in his NHL debut for the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

Knight registered one shot on goal. His best stat? You guessed it. Faceoffs.

Knight won more than 60 percent of his draws and was the top faceoff man in Calgary’s 4-1 win over Ottawa.

Knight also screened the Ottawa goaltender during Calgary’s second goal of the game, a power-play marker. Knight was put out on the power play at the very end.

Another Flame forward sustained an injury in the game, which could lead to more ice time for Knight in the next game.

Knight to make NHL debut

Former UND standout Corban Knight will make his NHL debut tonight for the Calgary Flames at home against the Ottawa Senators.

Knight was called up on Wednesday morning.

Knight has put together a strong season for the Abbotsford Heat in the AHL. He has 14 goals and 37 points in 57 games for Abbotsford.

Knight will be the 12th former UND player to suit up in the NHL this season.

Seven UND players named in AJHL’s top 50

The AJHL named its top 50 players of all-time on Sunday night and seven former UND players are on the list.

Two of them are from the most recent decade — Matt Frattin and Corban Knight.

Other UND members on the list are Gary Valk, Dixon Ward, Troy Murray, Perry Berezan and Rick Zaparniuk. Five of the seven of the UND players to make the list have played in the NHL. Only Zaparniuk and Knight have not — and Knight’s probably not far away.

See the full list on the AJHL site here.

Frattin and Knight, both Hobey Baker Award finalists at UND, played in the AJHL during the 2004-13 era. Valk and Ward are from the 1984-93 era. Murray and Berezan were from the 1974-83 era. Zaparniuk played in the AJHL in the late 1970s.

Familiar faces at practice

UND practiced at Burnaby Winter Club on Thursday afternoon. This isn’t where tonight’s game will be held, but it’s less than a mile from it.

A lot of prominent hockey players grew up playing in the rink, including longtime NHLers Paul Kariya and Curtis Joseph. Former UND standout Cary Eades also played one year there, too.

The only non-participant at practice was forward Brendan O’Donnell, who will be held out this weekend. Gage Ausmus, who probably isn’t going to play, did practice.

It seems like people are pretty excited that UND is in town and there were probably 50 fans watching practice today. A lot of people were going in and out during the 90-minute session.

It was a usual Thursday practice for UND, complete with the weekly shootout drill. The goalies came away victorious this time. The final shooters were Rocco Grimaldi, Keaton Thompson, Dillon Simpson and Coltyn Sanderson, if I recall correctly.

After practice, the players had a chance to catch up with Corban Knight, who is currently playing in Abbotsford, about a 45-minute drive from Burnaby. Knight’s one of the best guys to come through the program; the players and coaches were pretty excited to see him.

The coaching staff also was excited to see former UND standout Garry Valk after practice. Valk played 777 NHL games over 13 years. He’ll be at the game Saturday.

Photo No. 1. Players search for a rebound during a drill at practice.

Photo No. 2: Players line up to get ready to do a battle drill at practice.

Photo No. 3: Fans watch UND’s practice.

Photo No. 4: Corban Knight chats with former teammates Drake Caggiula, Rocco Grimaldi, Brendan O’Donnell and Coltyn Sanderson.

Photo No. 5: Former UND great Garry Valk chats with Dave Hakstol.

Knight finds pucks, readies for camp

Signing an NHL contract for the first time is usually something a player never forgets.

Unless you’re Corban Knight.

Knight went to his daily workout in Calgary on Friday and was told afterwards that the Flames wanted him to come down and sign (he decided a couple weeks earlier that he would sign once free agency opened). So, he did that. Then, returned home to High River (45-minute drive) to help clean his house, which was wrecked by a flood.

Knight immediately got to work gutting the house and completely forgot to tell his parents that he had signed.

“After a while, I was like ‘Oh yeah, mom, I signed today,'” Knight said with a laugh. “Not exactly how you envision your first day as a professional.”

Knight finished gutting his room (drywall, insulation and everything) on Sunday and was very relieved to find his first UND goal puck and his 100th UND point puck.

“Honestly, those were the things I wanted the most,” Knight said.

Knight also said that his mother had a chance to grab one thing from his room before the water rushed into the home and she picked his Fighting Sioux jerseys. He was happy about that.

Perhaps not surprisingly, when the Knights were finally allowed back in to High River to start cleaning up their home, the UND team captain was there to help. Andrew MacWilliam, who lives in Calgary, drove down to High River. Knight said they put MacWilliam to work right away.

“That was awesome,” said Knight, who stayed with the MacWilliam family after his house was flooded. “We stuck him in the basement and he was throwing things around. It was nice to have a big guy like him down there.”

Knight said there was two feet of water on the main floor in his home. His bedroom is in the basement, and he said it looked like a tornado went through it.

He also said that while in Grand Forks, he saw pictures and heard all about the 1997 flood here and figured that a lot of UND fans have went through the same thing.

Pretty soon, he will start to focus on hockey again. The Flames’ development camp begins this week. Knight will be there for the first time, trying to make some strong first impressions.

When he’s back for the training camp in the fall, his goal will be making the big club.

“They told me I was going to be able to come in and compete right away,” Knight said. “They said it’s up to me and how well I play, but they need depth at center. It’s a perfect situation for me coming out of college, so I’m pretty excited.”

Knight’s rights traded to Calgary

The Calgary Flames have acquired the rights to Corban Knight from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.

Knight’s contract is a lock to be a two-year deal because of his age and he will be able to sign in July.

Prospect writer Corey Pronman stated earlier today that Knight will immediately become one of the top three players in Calgary’s system.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie said the battle for Knight came down to Calgary and Edmonton. Knight is an Alberta native.

Calgary general manager Jay Feaster seems to believe that Knight will be playing in the NHL pretty quick. He was quoted as saying, “(We) look forward to his debut in a Flames sweater this fall.”

Knight to become free agent

It was widely suspected after the season, when Corban Knight did not sign a contract with the Florida Panthers, that he would wind up taking the free agent route. Now, that’s confirmed.

Knight will either be traded by the Florida Panthers or he will become a free agent in two months.

Knight confirmed that in this Edmonton Journal story.

The story says that Knight plans to become a free agent on Aug. 15, but could end up signing elsewhere if the Panthers trade his rights. The Journal reported that three teams have inquired about trades with the Panthers.

The story suggests that the Edmonton Oilers sign Knight, though I’m not sure if that’s the most likely destination with all of the young prospects the Oilers have stockpiled. It appears that Florida’s stockpile deterred Knight from signing there.

The last two UND players to sign NHL deals after becoming free agents on Aug. 15 after their senior year were Matt Watkins (drafted by Dallas, signed by Phoenix) and Chris Porter (drafted by Chicago, signed with St. Louis). Jason Gregoire (drafted by N.Y. Islanders, signed with Winnipeg) used a different route to become a free agent.

Knight, of High River, Alta., was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior for tallying 49 points in 41 games. He grew up a Vancouver Canucks fan.