Goaltending just never comes easy for the Flames.
Today’s focus is on Tyler Parsons, our preseason #1 prospect. One of the OHL’s best goalies during his time in that league, Parsons’ pro debut went a little south. Perhaps expectations were a tad high, but unconvincing numbers in the minors didn’t really leave a good impression.
So is he still the goalie of the future? Let’s find out.
Parsons was a strong player in U.S junior leagues, eventually finding his way to London to join up with the Knights. He started to find his feet in his rookie season, eventually developing into one of the OHL’s strongest goalies.
The dominant 2015-16 London Knights team is most notable for the performances of Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner, and Christian Dvorak, but Parsons quietly pushed the team to further glory. His .942 save percentage in the Memorial Cup resulted in him winning the tournament’s most outstanding goalie nod, as well as a spot on the all-star team.
Although the following year’s team was severely depleted, Parsons remained a bright spot, finishing with the highest SV% in the OHL. Parsons found another tournament to win, as he backstopped the Americans to a WJC gold medal. With nothing left to conquer, he left to the pros.
Parsons began the year in Kansas City, splitting the net with Mason McDonald, although not for long. The Michigan native quickly made it clear that he was the better goalie with a lot of successive strong starts.
However, things began to get a bit wonky after that. An injury took away a lot of his playing time in November and December. The goalie situation above him started going weird, too. Eddie Lack’s demotion and eventual trade opened up a spot in Stockton, which was assigned to Parsons immediately after he became healthy.
Predictably, playing in a higher league fresh off injury isn’t a great way to get back into a groove, especially for a young goalie. Parsons struggled in his return, getting lit up to the tune of seven goals in his AHL debut.
Things didn’t really calm down from there on out. The Flames yo-yo’d him between the AHL and ECHL, trying to get him as many starts as possible, although Jon Gillies’ strong performances kept Parsons on the bench. Another injury kept him away from the ice. The Flames were much less rushed to find him a spot after that, especially given goaltending crises at the NHL level. He came back and played out the stretch for the Mavericks, closing out the season in quiet fashion.
|GP||MIN||SV%||SA||GA||SV% rank (/41)||SA rank||GA rank|
|AHL||7||300.98||0.856||153||22||n/a (did not qualify)||n/a||n/a|
Despite what his final SV% is, Parsons actually had a really good year. In a very goal-happy league, Parsons put up a .915 SV% 14 times in his 28 games, which is really positive. Half of the time, he was a good goalie in a league where it’s hard to be a good goalie
The negative side of that is that half the time, he wasn’t. A quarter of his games fall into the .850-.915 range, and the other quarter fall below. Like the chart signifies, he had very high highs and very low lows. Consistency was an issue for Parsons, who had one really good eight-game stretch of >.900 hockey, but was often bouncing between good and bad starts.
But a lot of the really low and often fluctuating numbers come during that weird period of getting injured and being shuffled between Missouri and California. Twenty-eight games really isn’t that large of a sample to definitively determine what the cause of him being bad (or good) was, but you feel that the overall weirdness of his season plays into his bad results.
And when you look at the KC Mavericks goalie mess, Parsons is still the best goalie to have at least played 10 games for them. The only other goalie to have a similar workload to Parsons is Mason McDonald, who finished with a .894 SV%. McDonald is a year and a half older than Parsons and already has a year of pro starter experience under his belt, for reference.
Hopefully next year is a bit more stable for young Parsons.
Barring any surprises, he should be in Stockton full time next season splitting starts with one of David Rittich and Jon Gillies. The Flames’ goalie progression plan will push him to the AHL #2 spot, which should hopefully be where he stays for the whole season. At this age, sticking in one place is perhaps the best way to develop the young goalie.
Speaking of Rittich and Gillies, those two were 25 and 23 to begin this NHL season. Parsons was 19. Goalies take time and it’s nothing but positive that Parsons is already making small waves in the pros at his age. If he can remain healthy, watch out.
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