2021-22 Team: Fargo Force (USHL)
Date of Birth: July 1, 2004
Place of Birth: East Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 84th (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 99th
- Smaht Scouting: 61st
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: HM
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 90th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 72nd
- Recruit Scouting: 99th
The Fargo Force drafted Cole Knuble 57th overall in the Phase I United States Hockey League (USHL) draft in 2020. He’s looking to follow in his father, 16-year NHL veteran Mike Knuble’s footsteps. He’s committed to the University of Notre Dame for the 2023-24 season.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Knuble fuels the Force’s offense. He is able to quickly find teammates when he has the puck in the offensive zone, and when he doesn’t have the puck he isn’t’ afraid to position himself in dangerous areas to create opportunities. He is good at finding the soft spots in opposing defenses and putting himself in position to receive a pass and wrist it on net.
He struggles with the separation speed and puckhandling ability to transition through the neutral zone. However, he is good at springing his teammates on the blue line with breakout passes to rush into the zone or establish a controlled zone entry. He is great at finding passing lanes through the neutral zone. His awareness of his strengths and weaknesses comes in handy and allows him to adapt his game to compensate for them.
When he’s moving the puck to or receiving the puck in the neutral zone, it’s a different story than when he tries to carry it out and transition it himself. A lot of that can be attributed to his skating. As mentioned, he lacks the separation speed and agility necessary. When he carries the puck into the offensive zone, his zone entries don’t go that deep and opponents close on him quickly, and he struggles with balance. For the USHL, it’s below average. His skating is his biggest hindrance.
Due to some experience playing center, his head is always on a swivel, scanning the defensive zone. He makes sure he is aware of where players are around him before engaging in battles along the wall and can move himself to areas to mitigate potential odd-man situations due to a lost puck battle. In the offensive zone, he’ll pressure opposing players to break up zone exits and pressure outlet passes which could lead to icings and further offensive possessions.
He took an aspect of his father’s game and has made it his own: physicality. He enjoys engaging in net-front battles to eliminate opposing rebound opportunities in the defensive zone and has become a staple on the Force’s penalty kill.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Cole Knuble – NHL Draft Projection
One of the biggest variables for Knuble’s draft position is his skating. He still has a year left in the USHL, however, and he’ll have time in college to further develop and improve it. He has upside, especially given his penalty-killing proficiency. He was listed as a C-prospect on the NHL Central Scouting 21-22 Preliminary Players To Watch List, which projects a prospect to be a fourth, fifth, or sixth-round candidate.
If a team really likes him, he could be taken as early as the late third round. His rankings fluctuated from the late third round to within the fourth round. While his skating does need work, the time he has left to develop it before the professional level should lead teams to look to snag him in the fourth round.
“I can see a world where Cole Knuble is seen as a late-2nd to 3rd round pick, and I also can see a world where he’s a 6th or 7th-round pick. His skating is going to be the biggest talking point when NHL General Managers and their scouting departments get together to assess his draft position…I’d label him more as a right wing as of now, and ideally I’d like him to be the fourth player coming off my board if I were an NHL team, but could see myself swinging on him in the late third depending on the quality of my team and/or prospect pool.” – Austin Garrett, Smaht Scouting
“Knuble is an extremely competitive player who has the work ethic and drive to be effective all over the ice, whether it’s scoring goals at 5-on-5, being creative on the power play, or battling along the wall. Something that immediately stood out to me was the energy that Knuble brought to the game. His enthusiasm was front and center every time he stepped on the ice and in everything he did…I project Knuble as a third-round selection with a very transferable skillset and next level value as a bottom-six winger who can swing momentum, bring energy and chip in with timely scoring.” – From a Jan. 18, 2022 scouting report by FC Hockey’s Shaun Richardson
“When we first shutdown in those first months in 2020, I actually think it helped me grow as a player because I used those months to train. I was working out in my home everyday and I shot tons of pucks. I wasn’t able to skate as much, but I got a lot stronger which is something I needed. I grew a little that summer, and I used those months to my advantage by using them to train and add muscle.” – Cole Knuble in “Player Spotlight: Cole Knuble – Fargo Force USHL” from Hockey Prospect Reporting
- Positional awareness and hockey IQ
- In-zone vision
- Off-puck play
- Breakout passes
- Penalty Killing
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Separation speed
- Agility and Balance
- Puck handling while transitioning through the neutral zone
He’ll be a project that teams will have to be patient with; similar to his father, who played four years of college hockey and almost two full American Hockey League (AHL) seasons before making the jump to the NHL. He has offensive upside, but his penalty-killing ability would be the impetus to help him stick in a team’s bottom six; likely as a third-line winger. An NHL comparison could be Dallas Stars forward Luke Glendening.
Knuble may have a bit more offensive upside than Glendening, but he can be someone who can be relied on to kill penalties. He should provide more offense, especially if given third-line ice time, and that would be an added bonus for whoever drafts him. Should he get some secondary power-play time, it would only help add his value to an NHL team’s bottom-six. They’ll just have to be patient, and hopefully, his skating will come around by the time he turns to professional hockey.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 5.5/10, Defense – 7.5/10
Knuble was drafted to the United States Hockey league (USHL) 57th-overall in the Phase I 2020 Draft. He was a Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) 16U champion, and had the most assists with 16, during the 2020-21 season while playing for Fox Motors 16U AAA.
Player Spotlight: Cole Knuble – Fargo Force USHL from Hockey Prospect Reporting
Cole Knuble Statistics
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.