Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) went through that process in 2019 after completing his final season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. He was there, in-person to hear his name announced as the 13th overall pick by the Florida Panthers, becoming the 10th U.S.-born goaltender all-time to be selected in the first round.
Since the draft, Knight has continued his amateur career, posting a 1.97 goals against average as a freshman at Boston College and representing Team USA in 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
With the draft getting underway tomorrow, Knight took the time to reflect on his NHL Draft experience.
USA Hockey: Looking back at being selected in the first round last year, what do you remember most about the entire experience?
Spencer Knight: When I was drafted in Vancouver last year, I just remember the excitement I had for the week heading into the draft. It was one of those times where you just soak it all in. I know that everyone that has gone through the draft process told me that — just soak it all in. So, I did that. I went in there with an open mind, so I wasn’t too nervous about where I was going to end up.
I just enjoyed it because, looking back on it, it does fly by. I just remember all the excitement I had and how much fun it was for me, my friends and my family.
USAH: Do you recall how you were feeling waking up that day?
SK: You could tell there was excitement in the air. I kind of forgot about it for a little bit. I had my friends there, so we walked around and hung out at the start of the day. Then, I took the nap mid-day and went to the draft.
Once I put the suit on, it was like, ‘All right, this is really happening.’
USAH: What emotions did you have when hearing your name called?
SK: You just hear when it’s announced. It’s all a surprise, which I kind of liked.
I had an idea of when I could go, but there obviously is no certainty at all. Around 12 or 13 in that area, I started sitting on the edge of my seat a little bit.
When you get called, it’s almost like you block it out. It’s like, ‘Oh boy, just stand up and make sure you don’t fall.’ You hug your family, walk down the stairs and after that it’s a blur when you get on stage.
It’s like, ‘This just happened.’
USAH: Do you remember what some of the conversations were like with family and friends after being selected?
SK: I was with family and friends and I received a lot of messages from people back at home. They were there and they were very excited. It was nice to see all those people there who had been with me from day one. It was nice to celebrate it with them.
Spencer Knight, 13th overall pick of the Florida Panthers, walks the draft floor toward the stage during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
USAH: Do you have any advice for this year’s group of Americans hoping to have their names called? Is there anything you would like to tell those guys getting ready to go through it?
SK: Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation that we would have all wanted. But, still just sit and enjoy it to the best of your ability. It only happens once. Although it might not be in the best scenario, you’ll regret it if you look back on it and didn’t enjoy it the best you could. Just enjoy it with friends and family and soak it all in.
USAH: In what ways has your life changed for you since being drafted?
SK: I wouldn’t say it changed my life too much. I was still going to Boston College and I’m still here. I wouldn’t say all that much has changed, but you’re labeled as a Florida Panthers prospect and all that.
Actually, it hasn’t changed my life that much, which is kind of nice. I’m still enjoying college and playing with my friends, but I think looking down the road, it will be something to look back on and say, ‘Wow, that’s a life-changing moment,’ but right now I don’t think it has changed that much in how I live my life.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.