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2018-19 Player Review: Corban Knight finally gets his shot, but proves to be more of a tweener than a potential piece

Phantoms veteran cracks Flyers lineup, but doesn’t stick and will head overseas for next season.

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Corban Knight was most certainly a Flyers in 2018-19, that much we can definitively say. As for the results of him actively being a Flyers? Well, there’s a different story.

The longtime AHL journeyman spent the bulk of his time after signing with the Flyers in September of 2016 with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, emerging as a useful tool for coach Scott Gordon. Due to injuries and ineffective play in the Flyers’ bottom six this past season, Knight finally got a longish look at the NHL level — and for his AHL bench boss no less.

Knight suited up for 23 games, starting with a three-game run in late October before being sent back to the AHL until February and playing out the rest of the season with the big club. Not that you’d expect the results to be spectacular, but Knight brought the Flyers a body who could skate and kill penalties while playing in the bottom six. The hope was that Knight would be able to help out a dreadful Flyers penalty kill, but the man with 29 NHL games to his belt coming into the season didn’t move the needle much in any situations.

The cup of tea more or less proved that Knight’s skillset was essentially stuck between the AHL and the NHL. Knight was a proven, effective AHL player — a reason the Flyers brought him to the organization in 2016— but he wasn’t quite effective enough at the NHL level and would have had a hard time keeping a permanent spot on the roster. The 28-year-old saw the writing on the wall and has signed a contract to play in the KHL next season. Knight, who played through a slew of injuries in recent years, is said to be looking for a different role and could find that overseas.


By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
23 1 3 4 0 15 6.7

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.27 0.63 4.12 0.34

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
40.00% -6.01% 5.68 -9.36% 31.88% 96.26

Part of the reason that Knight couldn’t stick in the NHL was that he just wasn’t very good. He posted some of the worst metrics on the team in just about every avenue and saw all of his scoring (one goal, four assists) in a five-game span in late March. Take out those five games and Knight provided all of 0 points in his other 18 games. Even for a fourth liner that’s just not bringing much to the table.

Even with Knight’s Phantoms coach tabbed as the Flyers’ interim bench boss after canning Dave Hakstol, the forward didn’t see any sort of uptick in ice time and routinely spent his nights under the 10-minute mark. Despite playing for a coach who knew his strengths and weaknesses best, Knight still wasn’t trusted with much of a role outside of the AHL. That’s not a knock on him, and there’s a ton of really, really good hockey players in the American Hockey League, but there’s a difference between the two leagues for a reason.


Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

Not much was expected of Knight but after a few solid season in Lehigh Valley I think we might have expected a little bit more than we saw in his Flyers debut. Given how badly some of the work was in the bottom six (See: Weise, Dale), you kind of expected Knight to be at least passable but he just wasn’t.

Now if you flip this to his AHL expectations he was very good once again for the Phantoms, but this is an NHL evaluation and quite frankly Knight just didn’t measure up.

What do we expect from this player next season?

If Knight were to be coming back to the organization, in case you were under a rock earlier he won’t, we’d probably be expecting him to head up another young and exciting Phantoms team next season.

With GM Chuck Fletcher already making moves to improve the Flyers’ NHL roster, one would figure Fletcher to keep exploring upgrades where the Flyers were weak: center depth, bottom six, defense. The bottom six wasn’t good enough to keep the Flyers competitive when the likes of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and James van Riemsdyk were off the ice.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

Knight proved that he had the skill set to potentially stick on an NHL roster in a bottom six role, but was inconsistent night-in and night-out and didn’t have enough scoring touch to warrant a roster spot. A good summer working on finishing should help Knight transition to a role overseas where he could finally have the chance to showcase what he can do when not asked to grind it out every night.

We wish Corban all the best for his three years of service in the Flyers organization.

Statistics courtesy of Hockeyreference.com

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