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Parsons aiming to stand out among crowd with Flames

Goalie prospect looking for opportunity to rise on busy depth chart

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames goalie prospect Tyler Parsons is all packed and ready to leave.

He just doesn't know where he'll be heading.

Parsons, the Flames' second-round pick (No. 54) in the 2016 NHL Draft, could play for Stockton of the American Hockey League or Kansas City of the ECHL this season. Or, Parsons, who doesn't turn 20 until Sept. 18, could play a fourth season for London of the Ontario Hockey League.

"It's tough," said Parsons, who won the Memorial Cup with London in 2016 and went 23-6-3 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 34 games last season. "I don't know where I'm going to play yet, whether it's junior or the [ECHL] or the AHL. You don't really find that out until the middle of main camp, whenever camp starts. You've got to move all your stuff.

 

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"Coming from Detroit, that's pretty far to go to California or the new team is in Kansas [City] for the [ECHL]. I could end up back in junior. It's got me on my toes a little bit. It's part of the process. Everyone has to go through that. I've talked to a few of the guys about it and what they do. You've got a couple things in your head … just whatever happens, happens, and I'll be ready to go."

Parsons, a native of Chesterfield, Michigan, who won a gold medal with the United States at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, isn't alone in waiting for his assignment. The Flames aren't exactly sure where he'll play yet either.

At the NHL level, the Flames are committed to the recently acquired duo of Mike Smith and Eddie Lack. They also have David Rittich, who turns 25 on Aug. 19, and 23-year-old Jon Gillies, a third-round pick (No. 75) in the 2012 NHL Draft. Rittich and Gillies each signed a one-year, two-way contract July 22, and they are expected to share goaltending duties at Stockton for another season.

Mason McDonald, selected in the second round (No. 34) in the 2014 NHL Draft, turned pro and played with Adirondack in the ECHL last season.

"It is something we talk about daily," Flames assistant general manager Craig Conroy said. "How are we going to do this? And how it's going to work. Hey, the good problem is we have a lot of goalies now. Now we have to figure out how we're going to work it out.

"The thing for me … the [ECHL] isn't a death sentence for a goalie. It's about games. But you'd like him to be in the American League. It's a fine line with how we're going to do it, but we do have to come up with a plan. We're going to have to figure out how and where they play."

Conroy's comments certainly point to the pro level for Parsons.

There's little for him left to accomplish in junior anyway, Flames goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet suggested.

"You want to do what's best for him, where he's going to get the most attention and play the most, but we also want him to get a challenge too," Sigalet said. "He's done everything at the junior level … winning the Memorial Cup and carrying his team in the playoffs again last year.

"The big thing is where he's going to get challenged the most and what will help his development. We would like to see him challenged. We know he's ready for the pro game. He wants to turn pro as well. I don't think it's going to be a hard decision, but something we still want to sit down and talk about.'

Parsons had a brief taste of that pro life following his run in London. He joined Stockton on an amateur tryout on April 20 but didn't get into a game.  

Bags packed, he's ready to return there should the Flames find the room.

"I loved being up there," Parsons said. "If I can get a shot to play pro this season, I'd love to do that. I feel that I'm ready for it.

"I've just got to go into every camp and be ready to go and be at the top of my game."

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