Ever since Miikka Kiprusoff retired, the Flames have been stuck for goaltending help. Veteran stopgaps have worked to varying degrees of success, but there’s been nothing long-term in place. Tyler Parsons, however, with an astounding junior league pedigree, could end up being just that guy.
At just 20 years old, though, Parsons still has a ways to go. The 6’1, 185 lb. goaltender comes in at eighth on our top 20 prospects list: a drop from his previous unanimous number one ranking in 2017, but still with a lot of potential.
How did we get here?
Playing for Little Caesars U18 team (because Michigan) in the High Performance Hockey League in 2013-14 as a 16-year-old, Parsons registered a .918 save percentage over 16 games: the second best goalie in the league. He made the jump to the OHL as a 17-year-old, posting a .905 save percentage over 33 games: tied for 13th in the league, and second among rookies.
With a Sept. 18 birthday, Parsons ended up being one of the oldest possible available picks for the 2016 NHL draft – if he had been born a mere few days earlier, he would have been eligible to be taken in 2015. This probably worked out in his favour, though, as during 2015-16 – his draft year as an 18-year-old – he posted a .921 save percentage over 49 games, tied for the second best save percentage across the OHL that season. He also had a .925 save percentage over 18 playoff games, leading the way, and topped it all off with a Memorial Cup win. A month later, the Flames drafted him in the second round, 54th overall.
In 2016-17, he built on that stellar individual performance, posting a .925 save percentage over 34 games, again with the second best save percentage across the entire OHL (and best among starters). He also put on a stellar performance helping the United States capture gold in the 2017 World Juniors, with a .917 save percentage over five games, including a clutch shootout performance to seal the deal. He topped off his final year in junior with a .922 save percentage over 14 playoff games, the top goalie of the playoffs, even as the Knights fell in the second round to the Erie Otters.
With pretty much nothing left to prove in junior and no reason to play an overage season, Parsons turned pro for 2017-18.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
As a rookie goalie with enough guys with more experience ahead of him on the depth chart, Parsons spent most of his 2017-18 playing in the ECHL, but got some AHL experience as well thanks to injuries throughout the organization (though it’s worth noting he had his own injury to deal with earlier in the season).
The numbers certainly aren’t as glowing as his time from junior, but it’s absolutely worth remembering that he is a rookie professional who did not experience smooth sailing throughout his first year, which was already going to be a major adjustment for him.
For a deeper dive into Parson’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup on him here.
Those in the know
Cail MacLean, Stockton’s new head coach who not too long ago was a head guy at the ECHL level, noted the level of work it’s going to take Parsons as he enters his second professional season:
I think that you saw last year that this is part of his growing process but the one thing that I would really highlight about Tyler is not only that he has desire and work ethic to put into it, but also make sure that he’s available and he’s willing to learn which I think is something that he’s shown with Colin Zulianello, our goaltending coach. There’s so many great things about what Tyler does, and I think it’s about learning to adapt to our pro game – even moreso than a skater. I think he’s got such great athleticism that was something he could really rely on at the junior level, but now he’s gonna have to get into even more structure than he’s had and utilize that to win his battles and then when he needs his athleticism he can put it to use, but it’s a process that I think started well but it’s going to be an ongoing process.
Stockton’s Finest had the chance to see Parsons’ first AHL games, where he left a strong initial impression:
I only saw Parsons a few times last year as he only played seven games for the Heat. He is aggressive, coming out of his crease to challenge shooters and decrease angles. He is quick to his feet when he goes down. He plays bigger that his 6’1” frame.
On the horizon
Parsons will turn 21 in just under a month, and he still has two years left on his entry-level deal. There’s absolutely no pressure on him at this stage of his career: he’s still finding his footing, and he’s only fourth on the depth chart, behind Mike Smith, David Rittich, and Jon Gillies. He may be called on for meaningful AHL action, but unless total disaster strikes, that should be his highest stakes for 2018-19 – reasonably intense, but not the weight of the world.
Seeing how many AHL games he gets in will be interesting, as well as seeing just how much he can improve his numbers. Because while he probably won’t be able to post performances as excellent as he did in junior, a good professional season is well within the realm of possibility: and hopefully, it’ll be what Parsons shows the Flames organization over the course of the next year.
|#20 – Martin Pospisil||#19 – Demetrios Koumontzis|
|#18 – Emilio Pettersen||#17 – Filip Sveningsson|
|#16 – Milos Roman||#15 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy|
|#14 – D’Artagnan Joly||#13 – Adam Ruzicka|
|#12 – Linus Lindstrom||#11 – Glenn Gawdin|
|#10 – Morgan Klimchuk||#9 – Jon Gillies|