Knight, who has not seen AHL action since opening weekend Oct. 12-13, was summoned back to Providence on Tuesday after a week’s worth of conditioning with the organization’s ECHL affiliate in South Carolina.
Over the past weekend, Knight had a team-leading six shots on goal in Friday’s 3-2 road loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators and registered two stabs at the Greenville Road Warriors cage in a 2-1 setback on Saturday.
No later than Sunday of this coming weekend, the parent club will be conducting its short training camp with at least two open forward slots to fill. Third-year pro Jordan Caron, who was passing the lockout in Providence and appeared to be penciled in as Boston’s 12th game-night striker, is now expected to miss three weeks with an injury of his own.
That alone creates an opening with the P-Bruins. The fact that Caron’s originally presumptive spot and the spare 13th forward position both need to be filled in Boston creates two more.
Any combination of the P-Bruins’ top three scorers to date―Chris Bourque, Ryan Spooner and Jamie Tardif―have the best odds of plugging those two voids with the NHL club. Until Caron recovers—and maybe even beyond that—no fewer than two of those players at a time will be in the top league.
As the Providence roster stands right now, there are 15 Bruins forwards listed at the AHL level. Between the start of the NHL season and Caron’s return, they will be down to 12, with at least one or two call-ups from South Carolina sure to come up and be placed on standby.
All of this means the door is instantaneously open for Knight to start kicking ice chips over his three-month struggle with a hamstring ailment.
Chosen at No. 32 overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Knight set a promising tone with a short professional call-up in the spring of 2011, when he tallied two assists in three games with Providence.
He returned to the London Knights for his final year of major-junior eligibility and, though limited to 52 regular-season games, he averaged exactly a point per night before partaking in a run to the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup.
The hamstring has halted his endeavor to start translating those achievements to the next level and to join his fellow rookie Spooner in challenging for an open Boston roster spot—that is, at least for the 2012-13 season.
Barring any future health troubles, though, Knight ought to be in high demand for the P-Bruins’ 44 remaining regular-season games and any Calder Cup playoff action that might follow.
Assuming NHL training camp starts on Sunday, as has been reported, Knight can be eased back into AHL game action on Friday and Saturday—before prospective call-ups join the parent club in practice—while the P-Bruins engage the Manchester Monarchs. No later than that point, Knight should be delving into a prominent role for Bruce Cassidy’s team.
The absence of Bourque, Spooner and/or Tardif―whether that is on-and-off or permanent―should be taken as a productive challenge for Knight and others to keep Providence, currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, above the playoff poverty line. Either that, or they should strive to elevate the Baby B's to a higher seed.
For a good two years leading up to the start of this AHL season, Knight and Spooner, fellow 2010 second-round selections, were inevitably labeled as an up-and-coming dynamic duo in the Bruins farm system.
Depending on how much time Spooner spends practicing and playing with the parent club, that prediction may never come to fruition. But this winter and spring, Knight can still fulfill his portion of the prophecy by acclimating to the AHL without fail and filling an empty set of skates when asked.
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