WILMINGTON, Mass. – Two years ago, Bruins prospect Jared Knight spent half a season as teammates with eventual 2009 NHL overall No. 1 pick John Tavares with London in the Ontario Hockey League.
Knight skated some on Tavares’ line and even let the junior hockey sensation and future New York Islanders star drive him to school a couple mornings.
“Had to put the windows up so no one knew who he was,” Knight recalled today after the first on-ice workouts of Boston’s development camp at Ristuccia Arena.
This year’s No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin is garnering the type of attention at this camp that Tavares captured in London and has continued to receive. That doesn’t mean that Knight, Boston’s second-round pick in what will forever be known as the Seguin draft, can’t do some things to make sure everyone knows who he is by the time camp closes Saturday.
Despite a three-hour cardio session that the Bruins put the prospects through in the morning – mostly in a pool, including 45 minutes of treading water – Knight was able to find his legs in the afternoon and flaunt his hard-nosed game during on-ice drills. He showed a nose for the net and a solid shot. Maybe there was a little adrenaline involved in his first-day performance.
“I’m on Cloud 9,” he said about being in camp with the Bruins.
Knight, 18, has never had a problem getting noticed. In his rookie season in London, he tallied 30 points (15 goals) in 67 games. Last season, after a slow start he finished with 57 points (36 goals) in 63 games. Of course, we all know by now that Knight’s struggles were mostly attributed to diabetes, which he has since gotten under control with four shots of insulin a day, a focus on his diet and plenty of exercise.
Despite a 17-point performance in 12 playoff games, Knight was still flying under the radar once the season ended. He wasn’t invited to participate in the combine, although he still visited Toronto to interview with five teams, including Boston.
In an effort to supplement his interview performances, Knight and his trainer Ron Gay became YouTube sensations by filming the 5-foot-11, 186-pound winger going through the combine testing on his own.
“It was done because I was diagnosed with diabetes in November. A lot of teams had questions about my physical makeup and how my body might be or react to the diabetes,” said Knight. “I just wanted to show on the video that I’m still strong, still muscular and able to handle the NHL.”
London has a prestigious history of producing NHL stars, including recent phenoms like Tavares, New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, Washington defenseman John Carlson and Chicago Stanley Cup-winning superstar Patrick Kane. Knight believes he’s benefiting from the same tutelage those guys got under head coach, and former NHL star, Dale Hunter.
“I love playing for Hunty,” said Knight. “He’s a tough coach. You’ve got to be giving 100 percent every game, and if you’re not he’s going to let you know. So he’s like an old-time coach. He does it the old way. But it works.”
Odds are Knight will be going back to London for the 2010-11 season. He’ll be a focal point of the team that’ll continue to try to prove his health concerns are under wraps and the Bruins were correct for going a little off the board to take him so high. He might never have a profile as high as Tavares’, but he might at least be able to get recognized around the Hub a few years down the line.