Matthew Knies gave the Toronto Maple Leafs some solid playoff hockey as a rookie just weeks after wrapping up his collegiate career, posting four points in seven games and even sliding into a top-six role at times. Unfortunately, his postseason was cut short early into Game 2 of their second-round loss to the Florida Panthers when a behind-the-net hit from Panthers center Sam Bennett concussed Knies and kept him out of the final three games of the series.
Today, Knies says he’s “fully recovered” from the collision and has been for quite some time – saying he’d been cleared to return to the lineup in Game 6 had Toronto avoided elimination. Toronto’s 57th overall pick in 2021 has shot up prospect rankings thanks to two spectacular campaigns at the University of Minnesota, during which he averaged over a point per game. He was named the NCAA’s Big 10 Player of the Year for 2022-23 after recording 21 goals and 42 points in 40 games. After Toronto signed both Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to one-year deals in free agency, he’s far from guaranteed to slot into the team’s top-six on opening night but should still play a significant role.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division:
- While top Seattle Kraken prospect Shane Wright was granted an exemption from the CHL to head to the minor leagues a year earlier than normal, don’t expect the same for Buffalo Sabres 2022 ninth-overall pick Matthew Savoie. The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski says the Sabres have “communicated” with the CHL regarding an exemption, but the “odds aren’t in their favor.” Savoie lit up the WHL for 95 points in 62 games with the Winnipeg ICE (now Wenatchee Wild) last season and was born on January 1, 2004 – if he had been born a day earlier, he would be eligible for a full-time AHL assignment to Rochester this season. There is still an outside chance Savoie turns pro this season by making the Sabres out of camp, however.
- Sticking with Buffalo, Lysowski also reports defense prospect Vsevolod Komarov is dealing with a lower-body injury that will keep him out of their rookie tournament games. Komarov, 19, is expected to return to the QMJHL’s Québec Remparts after being released from Sabres camp. The team selected him 134th overall in the 2022 draft, and he put up stellar two-way numbers for the Remparts last season en route to a QMJHL championship and Memorial Cup win, posting 39 points and a +38 rating in 62 regular-season games.