Hey, did you hear that the Flames are struggling with finding a long term starter?
Tyler Parsons, second round pick of the 2016 draft, has been projected to be that starter ever since being drafted. His pro career thus far has taken odd turns and journeyed through many peaks and valleys, but can he still be that guy?
When we last checked in
Parsons jumped to the pros as a 20-year-old despite having a year of OHL (overage) eligibility left.
His season was a weird one. Despite starting off hot in the ECHL, he sustained an injury that took away the better part of two months. The Flames shuffling their goalie options opened up a spot for him in the AHL, where he went immediately after becoming healthy, but he struggled in the tougher league.
From there on out, the Flames shuffled him between the AHL and ECHL, often with little success. Another injury kept him in Kansas for good, where he closed out the year.
With the goaltending situation clearing up, Parsons found himself playing backup behind Jon Gillies in Stockton.
But things were still rocky. Parsons suffered from a couple of injuries, playing only six games in the 2018 portion of the 2018-19 season. He returned in January, playing six games, but saw less and less of the ice. From February onwards, he only factored into eight games despite suiting up as a backup in many of Stockton’s games. Likely precautionary, but it was kind of strange to see Gillies flailing with Parsons being left to collect dust.
Numbers & Growth
It’s pretty hard to get a solid grasp of what Parsons’ season was given the circumstances he found himself in. We’ve already covered his irregular playing schedule (Parsons didn’t even meet the AHL’s definition of a qualified goaltender, finishing 360 minutes away from that mark), but we also have to consider the pretty lacklustre defence Stockton had all season. Parsons saw, on average, 32 shots come his way every night. On five occasions, he saw more than 40 shots head his way, including two games where he saw 50 shots against. To really put an exclamation point on it, none of those games were overtime games.
From what we do have, it’s a mixed bag. Parsons evidently struggled early on in the year, having a few good games followed by just as many bad ones. His final seven games of the season were mostly positive, finishing over 0.900 SV% and allowing three goals or fewer in all but one disaster game.
Without much to assess, there’s really no conclusions that can be made. He can be good, and he can be bad. We need to see more to figure out which of those labels he is more often.
Stockton’s goaltending situation next season is complex. Gillies, Parsons, and Artyom Zagidulin are, as of this writing, all projected to be in the AHL to begin the season. Who fits where is going to be a tough jigsaw puzzle.
I feel Gillies is likely out, and the net is split between Zagidulin and Parsons, with Parsons eking out a few more starts. The Flames seem committed to developing him as a #1 goaltender, so he’ll probably see the lion’s share of work. We’ll get a clearer goalie picture as next season approaches, but that’s my guess as to what happens for now.
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