The 2017 World Junior Championships are now complete after a whirlwind two weeks of high-end hockey. Much of the positive chatter following the event has centered on the performance of Calgary Flames prospect Tyler Parsons, a second round selection of the club in the 2016 NHL Draft and hotshot goalie of Team USA on their gold medal march.
The Flames have yet to ink Parsons to an entry-level contract. They’ve likely missed an important window to do, but there is still a lot of value to getting a deal done.
First, a caveat: it’s entirely possible that the Flames and Parsons have agreed to a deal already and were waiting for the end of the World Juniors to announce it. However, given that other clubs have signed players in similar circumstances and announced the deals during the tournament, it’s not looking wholly likely.
Signing Parsons prior to the end of the 2016 calendar year would have provided both Parsons and the Flames with some nice flexibility heading into the 2017-18 season. For Parsons, he would have gotten his signing bonus earlier than he would have otherwise.
For the Flames, a 2016 signing would have provided a bunch of additional flexibility. As we detailed last month, since Parsons was 18 on Sept. 15, 2016 he’s considered an 18-year-old until the end of 2016 (despite the fact that he turned 19 on Sept. 18). As such, an entry-level contract signed before the end of 2016 can slide for two seasons – the remainder of 2016-17 and all of 2017-18.
The double-slide is important because the second slide year would allow the Flames to return Parsons to the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights without burning the first year of his entry-level deal. The Flames will have to juggle Jon Gillies, David Rittich, Nick Schneider, Mason McDonald and Tom McCollum (and whichever of Chad Johnson or Brian Elliott is retained) at the pro level next season. Now? Because Parsons will likely sign this season, his deal slides just once because he’s considered a 19-year-old for entry-level signing purposes during 2017 and a deal signed in 2017 can only slide once.
All contract-related hand-wringing aside, Parsons was a beast in net for the Americans during the World Juniors. He has now backstopped teams to a Memorial Cup and a World Junior gold medal within the past 12 months. He has momentum on his side. He’s very likely turning pro next season. He should be signed in short order, if only to get it out of the way.