(Voorhees, NJ, April 2) – Stepping off the ice following his first practice with the Flyers on Monday, 19-year-old rookie defenseman Ryan Parent was told by Head Coach John Stevens that he may be making his NHL debut on Tuesday night in Toronto.
Not a bad couple of hours for a kid who still thought on Monday morning that he was coming to the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone to practice with the Phantoms.
"When I woke up this morning, I expected to be practicing with the Phantoms and right when I got here it changed and they brought me right over here. It's a lot to take in, in one day," said Parent.
The status of Derian Hatcher will determine if Parent gets a chance to play at the Air Canada Centre in Philadelphia's final road game of the season. Hatcher left Saturday night's 6-4 loss to New York Rangers with a left hip flexor and did not practice on Monday. Randy Jones, who was the extra defenseman on Saturday, got a puck in the face on Monday and did not accompany the team to Toronto on its charter flight.
All of that adds up to a huge opportunity for the player who was acquired by the Flyers on February 15 as part of the Peter Forsberg deal.
Known primarily as a sound defensive player who is reliable in his own end, Parent had three goals and seven assists for 10 points and 86 penalty minutes in 43 games for the Guelph Storm this year.
Stevens was impressed with Parent's skills.
"We had a good opportunity to get him involved in practice today, and it was my first look at him, but we got him integrated in some of the drills and gave him an opportunity to meet his teammates and we'll take him with us [to Toronto]," said Stevens.
"[His skating] jumps out at you right away. He's got great feet and great mobility. He's got really good awareness on the ice, and he's got good puck skills. He was tagged as kind of an efficient player who moves the puck and isn't real flashy offensively, but is very astute without the puck. We saw all of that today."
When he was first acquired by the team, Parent was viewed as the centerpiece of the trade and the player who would be counted on by the club as it retools for the future. Parent was asked if the early success of the other player in the deal, Scottie Upshall, will help to take that pressure off as he begins his NHL career.
"That's going to be a lot of pressure off if he's playing well, and he has been," said Parent of Upshall, who has six goals and five assists in 15 games with the Flyers since the trade. "I never really thought about that too much, but yeah, that would take some pressure off."
Parent got his first taste of professional hockey last season when he joined the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League when Guelph was eliminated from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. He was scoreless in 10 games with four penalty minutes.
Prior to finding out that he was going to go to Toronto with the team, Parent mentioned to the local media that he didn't really have a timetable for making his pro debut.
"They are going to make sure you're ready before you start playing," he said. "I know there's going to be a point where I know I'm ready and they are going to know I'm ready as well."
That time could be sooner for Parent than later.
FLYERS NOTES Upshall and Mike Richards made the trip to Toronto and are questionable for the game, while defenseman Denis Gauthier did not go. … Martin Biron will start in net on Tuesday.