Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had 102 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. We’ll be counting down the 25 highest voted players over the next five weeks. Up next: Samuel Knazko
#23: Samuel Knazko
23rd out of 38 eligible players
Writer Rank: 21st
Reader Rank: 24th
Highest placement: 6th (1 vote)
Most common placement: 20th, 23rd and 25th(5 votes each)
Birthdate: August 7, 2002
Birthplace: Trencin, Slovakia
Weight: 191 lbs
Acquired: Drafted by the Blue Jackets in Round 3 (78th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft
Knazko spent the year playing in Finland, suiting up for TPS Jr. in Finland’s junior league (Jr. SM-Sarja) for a third straight year. In just 23 games, he posted a 5/10/15 statline and was a +19. The smooth-skating defenseman also represented his home country of Slovakia at the World Junior Championship while wearing the “C” on his chest. This summer, Knazko was selected to play for Slovakia in the World Championship against NHL talent. While he didn’t bring home any hardware from either tournament, it was nonetheless a successful season for Knazko that culminated in signing his entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets.
Knazko will most likely remain in Finland in the TPS system, moving up to play at the Liiga level. He will be joining a team that lost in the finals last season, and is overall one of Liiga’s most successful teams of all time. TPS is currently captained by former Blue Jacket and long-time NHL veteran, Lauri Korpikoski. The organization has produced numerous NHL talents, such as Saku and Mikko Koivu, Rasmus Ristolainen, and more recently Mikko Rantanen and Kaapo Kakko. It’s safe to say that Knazko’s development is in good hands.
Knazko’s passing skills are refined for a defenceman. He can find players in the seam and on the breakout with great accuracy. He’s comfortable with making plays from his backhand and makes sharp passes with good power behind them. His mobility stood out; he has the skating ability to be effective defending against the rush and during long cycles. -EliteProspects 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Kňažko is smart offensive defenseman who has tools to quarterback a power play and be an effective offensive weapon. He is a really solid skater with very good hands, shot and playmaking abilities. - Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects
The most important aspect of Knazko’s game is his skating ability, which is described by many to be among the best in the draft for a defenseman. This, combined with his great hockey instincts, allows him to stay a step ahead of the game and allows him to capitalize on a great pass or a smart shot on goal. - Eugene Helfrick, The Hockey Writers