Knight cracks league's top-50 all-time
Hockey: Oilers alumnus voted into spot on AJHL's best-ever players list
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 08:38 pm
One of the Okotoks Jr. A Oilers’ most distinguished graduates was etched into league lore last week.
Oilers alumnus and Calgary Flames prospect Corban Knight was voted into the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) Top-50 Players of All-Time through an online vote in celebration of the league’s 50th season.
“It’s definitely a big honour. The AJHL was a big part of growing up and being able to make Okotoks and play in that league it was almost like a dream come true,” said Knight, in a phone conversation on Monday.
“The fact I was able to crack this list means a lot to me.”
Knight enjoyed a prolific, albeit brief, tenure with the Oilers in 2008-09 under then head coach Dan MacDonald where he led the club with 34 goals and 72 points and took home rookie-of-the-year honours from the league.
The High River native parlayed his strong season into a scholarship to the University of North Dakota and pushed his way onto the list of top prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft where the pivot was scooped up in the fifth round (135th overall) by the Florida Panthers.
“That year was huge for me as a player and as a person in setting me up for my transition to college and the rest of my life,” Knight said. “I look back on that year with Okotoks and I’m really thankful to have had a chance to be a part of that team with those bunch of guys. They really helped me mature on and off the ice.
“My career would have been a lot different if it wasn’t for the AJHL and Okotoks.”
Knight would go on to star for four years with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, registering 52 goals, 146 points in 161 contests with the vaunted NCAA program. In the 2012-13 season, his Senior year at North Dakota, Knight was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the NCAA’s top player.
Upon graduation, Knight’s rights were traded from Florida to the Calgary Flames in the off-season. The 24-year-old was one of the last cuts from the Flames’ pre-season and has spent his first professional season with the Abbotsford Heat, Calgary’s affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Knight, who signed a two-year deal with the Flames on July 5, has put up nine goals and 28 points in 41 games as a rookie in the professional ranks. He’s helped Abbotsford to a stellar 26-14-1 mark and third seed in the Western Conference.
“It’s been great so far. We’re fortunate to have a good team here in Abbotsford and a great bunch of guys. We’re doing well right now and having fun doing it,” Knight said. “Development-wise, I’m really happy how my game has come along and I’m going to keep working hard to hopefully get the call sooner rather than later.
“I’m happy with how things are going here and I’ll keep developing so one day if that call does happen I’ll be as ready as possible.”
Current and former NHLers make up the lion’s share of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Top-50 Players List, decided on by more than 5,000 online votes.
The 23-year-old Knight shares the top-player status for the 2004-2013 range with current Flames Joe Colborne and T.J. Galiardi, Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens, Toronto Maple Leaf Mason Raymond, L.A. King Matt Frattin, Columbus Blue Jacket Mark Letestu, Florida Panther Dylan Olsen as well as former Bonnyville Pontiac Justin Fontaine and Spruce Grove Saint Taylor Fedun. Other notable alumni on the list include current NHL stars Scott Hartnell, Dany Heatley, Curtis Glencross and Chris Phillips as well as league legends in Mark Messier, Mike Vernon, Clint Malarchuk and four Sutter brothers (Brian, Duane, Darryl and Brent).
The Top 10 players from each decade were determined through a series of online voting stages throughout the opening months of the 2013-2014 season. The league asked fans to weigh both the individual’s achievements within the Alberta Junior Hockey League and their careers outside of the loop when voting..
To find the complete list of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Top-50 Players of All-Time go to ajhl.ca.