A closer look at Tyler Parsons

Everybody familiar with my writing knows that I generally recommend against drafting goalies in the first few rounds. In fact, I mostly don’t bother evaluating or even get interested in goalie prospects until they have significant achievements under their belt. 

That’s because goalies are really, really hard to predict. Most of them are many years from contributing in the NHL, if at all, making it difficult to determine just which of them is worth a damn. The Flames’ shoddy organizational record when it comes to drafting goalies might also be a cause of my apathy towards netminding hopefuls. 

Tyler Parsons has me intrigued, however. The Flames’ recent second round pick put together an incredible season for the London Knights this past year, causing me to take a closer look at his numbers. Here’s what I found.

We’ll start with the basics. Parsons appeared in 49 games for the Knights during the regular season, boasting a .921 SV%, good for the first in the league amongst regular starters. Next, he played in 18 games for the Memorial Cup winners, managing a .925 save rate – again, the best in the OHL of anyone who played more than three games in the post-season. 

So Parsons was effectively the best puck stopper in the best Canadian junior league. That’s a good start, particularly given his age; usually draft-eligible puck stoppers aren’t already dominating their peers. 

Good news so far. I wanted to go deeper to see if there were other good arrows though.

Parsons vs 18-year-olds

To add some layers to the analysis, I took a comparative approach – I wanted to look at Parsons vs. his age cohort, as well as his team and a comparable player.

Let’s start with the age cohort comparison. Luckily this is easy thanks to the great tools provided by Ian Fleming. Here’s how Parsons compares to the average 18-year-old goalie:

Dashboard 1-18

Whoa. 

That’s unambiguously above average across the board. So we can be fairly sure Parsons is tracking ahead of the typical development curve. 

Let’s add another angle though, just to be sure. Maybe Parsons plays on a really, really dominant team that is somehow skewing his numbers.

Parsons vs London Knights

For this side of the analysis, I looked at Parsons’ results in context of his team (i.e.; the other goalies to appear for the Knights) over the last two years and then compared those results to fellow Flames prospect Mason MacDonald at the same age for added context. 

Here’s what I found for Parsons:

17-year-old season

2014-15   GP MIN SH SAV GA SO GAA SAV%
Parsons, Tyler LDN 33 1647 1017 920 97 0 3.53 0.905
Giugovaz, Michael LDN 47 2404 1408 1264 144 0 3.59 0.898
Vella, Emanuel LDN 2 58 40 31 9 0 9.28 0.775
                   
Other goalies       1448 1295 153     0.894

Parsons was the best goalie on his team in his rookie season by a non-trivial amount. Combined, the other two Knights puck stoppers managed a 89.4% save rate. Parsons was over 10 points higher. 

18-year-old season

2015-16                  
Name Team GP Min SH SAV GA SO GAA SAV%
Parsons, Tyler LDN 49 2835 1397 1287 110 4 2.33 0.921
Burke, Brendan LDN 19 935 443 397 46 1 2.95 0.896
Vella, Emanuel LDN 6 314 135 116 19 0 3.63 0.859
                   
Other goalies       578 513 65     0.888

For the second year in a row, Parsons was clearly the best netminder on his team. Combined, all the other Knights goalies stopped just 88.8% of the shots they faced. Parsons was way, way out in front at .921.  

Cumulative

Parsons: 2,414 shots against, 2,207 saves, 207 goals against, .914 SV%

Other Goalies: 2,026, 1,808 saves, 218 goals against, .892 SV%

Over two seasons and several thousand shots, Parsons completely outperformed the Knights’ other options. This at least suggests he wasn’t merely benefitting from team effects. 

Parsons vs McDonald

17-year-old season

Name Team GP Min SH SAV GA SO GAA SAV%
Brennan, Jacob Bat 56 2937:57 1691 1515 176 1 3.59 0.896
Sullivan, Miguel Bat 2 95:16 43 37 6 0 3.78 0.86
Sirois, Samuel Bat 2 53:29 27 23 4 0 4.49 0.852
McDonald, Mason Bat 26 1004:18 685 606 79 1 4.72 0.885
Other goalies       1761 1575 186 1   0.894

As is common, McDonald wasn’t great during his rookie season. He lagged behind his teammates by almost 10 points. 

18-year-old season

2013-14                  
Name Team GP Min SH SAV GA SO GAA SAV%
MacCallum, Daryl Cha 1 60:00 28 26 2 0 2 0.929
Bibeau, Antoine Cha 26 1424:21 877 799 78 1 3.29 0.911
McDonald, Mason Cha 29 1603:10 917 825 92 0 3.44 0.900
Brassard, Eric Cha 32 1687:38 1007 907 100 1 3.56 0.901
Other goalies       1912 1732 180 2   0.906

McDonald improved in his draft season, but still finished behind his teammates’ average save rate. 

Don’t worry Flames fans, McDonald has since established himself as a clear starter in the QMJHL (his SV% has been better than the team’s other options in his draft+1 and draft+2 seasons), but unlike Parsons he wasn’t clearly the best option available as a 17 or 18-year-old. 

In fact, Parsons’ 17 and 18-year-old relative team results are still better than McDonald’s 19 and 20-year-old relative results. McDonald is at .904 SV% vs .888 SV% for his club’s other options. Recall that Parsons comes in at .914 vs .892.

Conclusion

I don’t want to get too excited about Parsons quite yet given he’s just 18 and hasn’t even played 100 games in junior. 

That said, his stats to date are absolutely sparkling no matter what angle you look from. He is way out in front of goalies of the same age, completely outclassed the London Knights’ collection of other netminders so far, and has better results at 17 and 18 than a similar prospect does at 18 and 19. 

Parsons has a long way to go yet. But the early returns are very good. 

  • The Fall

    I understand the argument against taking young goalies high in the draft. I suppose the counter argument is that goalies have the highest impact/player ratio of any position. There has to be a tipping point where you want to roll the dice once per draft for that future super-star.

    • Baalzamon

      Agreed, and I think the Flames just liked Parsons too much to pass him up. If my team is drafting a goalie, I want that to be the reason why, not “you gotta take a goalie every couple years”

  • BurningSensation

    I really think the sweet spot for picking a goalie is in the 2nd rnd.

    You still get one of the best ‘tenders in a given draft, but you aren’t using a first round pick to do so.

    Beats throwing the pick at Hunter Smith types

    • The GREAT Walter White

      That is a really strange thing to say about the Hunter Smith pick; would you have preferred we picked a goalie instead of Smith?!

      We just wasted a second round pick on goalie Mason MacDonald a few picks earlier….

      WW

        • The GREAT Walter White

          They were both terrible picks and I have been saying so since day one….

          (I would have been a lot happier with Demko and Smith than MacDonald and Smith)

          The point is; if you are going to waste a second round pick on a goalie; at least make sure it’s a good goalie…

          WW

    • SmellOfVictory

      There are better alternatives to goalies and grinders in the second round most of the time. Case in point for Flames: 2015 draft with Kylington and Andersson.

      I do think Parsons is a great exception to the rule of avoiding goalies early (as is a guy like Price or Vasilevsky) but most of the time they really are good to leave to later rounds or not draft at all.

  • The Fall

    Drafted in first three rounds: Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ben Bishop, Jon Quick, Marc-Andre Fleury, Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, Ilya Bryzgalov, Cam Ward, Matt Murray.

    One could argue that you NEED an early round goalie to win a cup in the modern era; I count 8-9 rings in that group since the lockout.

    FYI – Brian Elliot was drafted in the 9th round.

  • OKG

    Mason McDonald is going to really impress people when he’s NHL-ready. He was always a project with some technical flaws, but his actual raw ability (reading plays, reacting) is awesome.

    That said Parsons looks more polished at the same point in his career. Less upside though IMO, McDonald better puck handler with better size and similar athleticism.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Great article, nothing to add this time. I can offer (and yes I wrote articles here before) some articles like “Crazy (or ARE they?)Trade Suggestions” on a recurring basis and “Why don’t the Flames PTO these guys?” right now..is there anyone interested? Hit me up FN editors.

  • Just.Visiting

    Like many others here, I’d typically prefer not to pick a goalie early because they are so hard to project out and one can always look at trades or free agency on a more proven product as the need arises.

    The more I read about Parsons, the more I like this pick at this spot (late second round), though.

    From what I’d read about the summer camp, he’s extremely athletic. He put up really nice numbers in the OHL and in the playoffs. And, most importantly, you can’t teach how to win when the pressure is on. Looking forward to seeing what he does at camp, back in the OHL and at the World Juniors.

    Looks like we got ourselves a keeper here, pardon the pun.

  • McRib

    Tyler Parsons looked absolutely fantastic at development camp this summer, as he really has lightning fast reactions. I honesty haven’t seen someone with those type of reactions in a Flames sweater since Kipper. He took away a couple of goals with his gloves and pads that were incredibly impressive in the scrimmage. Great article.