Portland Winterhawks/Donovan MacGowan

Simon Knak named Swiss captain for World Juniors


December 20, 2019, Simon Knak was informed that he had made the Swiss team headed to the 2020 World Junior Championship.

Fast forward one year to December 20, 2020, and Simon Knak has found himself named Switzerland’s team captain for the 2021 World Junior Championships.

The Portland winger has spent recent months on loan to HC Davos in Switzerland. With four points through his 11 games in the Swiss National League, he gained more attention from both Swiss and North American fans. In just a few days, there will be even eyes on him while he is on the largest stage in junior hockey.

Two Winterhawks alumni to have represented Switzerland at the World Juniors in previous years have been Nino Niederreiter (’10 and ’11) and Sven Bartschi (’11 and ’12). Niederreiter also served as the captain of the Swiss team at the tournament in 2011.

Nothing new

The 18-year-old Knak is no stranger to the leadership role that comes with the title of captain, having previously been honored with the title for the Swiss team at international U18 and U20 events.

Knak is building a great presence on the world stage with another year of World Juniors eligibility left. Last December, he has represented Switzerland at the 2020 World Junior Championship as a double underage player at 17 years old. At last year’s World Juniors tournament, he tallied two goals in five games for Switzerland. Over the summer, the now 18-year-old served as the Swiss U20 team captain who faced Germany’s team over three games. He finished the series with two goals and one assist.

Draft details

Despite his arguably impressive resume, Knak did not hear his name called at the 2020 NHL entry draft, his first year of eligibility; however, 2021 may be his year.

On the NHL Central Scouting’s list of players to watch that was released in October, Knak was given a “C” rating, meaning they expect him to be selected in the fourth, fifth, or sixth round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2021. During the 2020 draft, Knak was projected to go somewhere in the third round and has every chance to work his way back up, especially at this World Juniors.

When to watch

Switzerland is scheduled to open the tournament on December 25 at 11 am PST against Slovakia. The NHL Network is airing each game of the tournament.

What comes next?

When he left HC Davos, the expectation was that he would be remaining in North America so he would be available for the start of the WHL season. He was already on a great trajectory but with the delay in the WHL start date, the question is now what do he and the other European WHL players plan to do after the tournament. WHL was slated to begin the season on January 8th, 2021 but has seen that date slip away in the last couple of weeks.

During his shortened freshman season with the Winterhawks, Knak posted nine goals and 25 assists during his first season in North America.

While we don’t know when we will see WHL games again, one thing is for sure: Simon Knak will be prepared for action whenever it happens.

Who else can’t wait to see what happens for Simon Knak on December 20, 2021?

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