The Florida Panthers signed goaltender Spencer Knight to a three-year contract extension with an AAV of 4.5 million dollars. Knight, now on the last year of his entry deal, is locked up through the 2025-26 NHL season. The timing of this news surprised many fans. Common practice would suggest that the team would wait until the offseason to get this deal done.
While certainly unexpected, the Spencer Knight contract extension clarifies Florida’s future plans at the position, and is a worthy gamble to take on before the season starts.
Spencer Knight, at just 21 years old, has exceeded even the most lofty expectations placed upon him. He finished his first full season in the NHL with a 19-9-3 record and .908 save percentage over 32 games.
Those numbers may not suggest that Knight is anything more than a backup goalie right now. What separates him, however, is his exponential improvement over the year. After returning from an AHL stint in February, Knight finished the season very strong. Via statmuse, his last 14 games resulted in a record of 10-3-1 with a .921 save percentage.
That stretch alone showed what Knight could be in a few short years. It’s also likely what enticed the Panthers to get a contract done sooner rather than later. Waiting until the offseason could have shot his price up significantly. If Knight plays as well this year as he did down the stretch last year, he would likely command far more than his current deal.
At 4.5 million dollars, this is a very clear bridge deal for Knight. It is far too expensive to pay for a traditional backup, but significantly less than most starters are paid.
This deal resembles a contract signed by Jake Oettinger earlier this offseason. Oettinger, the 23 year old star goalie prospect for Dallas, signed a three-year contract with a 4 million dollar AAV.
That deal gave the framework for the Spencer Knight contract extension, but it is worth noting the higher value for Knight’s deal. Oettinger has done more at this point in his career to earn a higher contract. The figure Knight received is a bet on the future.
Since this contract starts next year, his potential jump this year factors into the price point. In addition, his pedigree as the former thirteenth overall pick and a college superstar also plays a part.
Still, if there are any concerns about his NHL play, look no further than the exponential growth he displayed in just his first season mentioned above. This may seem like a bit of an overpay as of now, but taking chances on internal improvement is how good teams become great.
The future Implications
One under-the-radar part of the Spencer Knight contract extension is the length. As mentioned earlier, his new contract ends in 2026. Florida’s other goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, also has a contract ending in 2026.
Bobrovsky’s much maligned contract has been a point of contention within the organization. He has not lived up to his ten million dollar cap hit, and his full no movement clause has made it impossible to find a suitor for him. In all likelihood, they will need to work around it until then.
Knight’s extension may be a worthy solution to the problem. In the short term, he can take over for Bob at any time as Bob’s age begins to catch up with him. In the long term, The Panthers will have the cap space give Knight a raise when this contract expires.
Of course, this plan means the Panthers may end up with the league’s most expensive backup in a couple years. This will probably hurt their depth at other positions, but the Panthers can’t do anything about that without an obvious trade partner. The team has to chalk it up to the sins of Dale Tallon and deal with the resulting consequences.
Spencer Knight represents another key piece of the Panthers’ bright future. This contract extension shows continued dedication to internal improvement and perennial contention. Paying goaltenders always comes with some risk (see Sergei Bobrovsky) but Zito and company have done a good job making smart, sensible decisions when it comes to player personnel, something most Panther fans will agree is an entirely welcome breath of fresh air.
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