CA Prospect Profiles: Ryan Parent

Manny Malhotra: "Rhubarbrhubarbrhubarbrhubarbrhubarbrhubarb."
Ryan Parent: "Seriously, I was hoping from some advice. Not fake background speak."
(Photo from

It seems rather funny and quirky that Ryan Parent has such a notable history with the Nashville Predators, without playing a single game for them. Instead, Parent was a bargaining chip and a frequent one at that. Parent was a part of three separate trades involving the Nashville Predators and, when you look closer at his numbers and his play, there might be a reason why the defensive-minded Predators were will to give up on him twice.

Ryan Parent had a reasonably impressive junior career, playing all four years with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. But it almost seems like things peaked for him too early. In his first year of junior (2003-04), Parent’s Guelph Storm won the OHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. However, the Storm went 0-3 in the tourney and were the first team knocked out. For the three following years, Parent’s numbers in junior continued to improved over his next three years, but the Storm never made it back to the Memorial Cup in his time with the team. In the summer of 2005, Parent was drafted in the first round, 18th overall, by the Nashville Predators, thus beginning an interesting (if not bizarre) relationship between Parent and the Predators.

At the end of this 2006 Junior campaign, Parent joined the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL for their playoff run, playing in 10 games and failing to register a point. He then went back to the Storm to complete his final year in the OHL for the 2006-07 season. As the NHL trade deadline loomed, the Predators acquired Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Parent, Scottie Upshall, and 2007 1st and 3rd round picks. Parent then went on to play a handful of games with the Flyers’ farm team (Philadelphia Phantoms) and a single game in the NHL regular season for the Flyers. In 2007-08, he spent his first full year in the Flyers’ system, playing most in the AHL with the Phantoms (53GP 1G 7A 8Pts 42 PIM +8). He did get some big league time with the Flyers but, again, failed to factor on the scoresheet (22GP 0G 0A 0Pts 6 PIM -4), In 2008-09, he again split time between the two leagues and the IR with a variety of injuries but did just enough to get involved in 6 playoffs games for the Flyers as well. In 2009-10, he spent his third straight season doing double duty with the Flyers and the Phantoms, finally potting his first NHL goal. As the Flyers made their way through the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Parent was a consistent member of the Flyers’ blue line, playing 17 games and netting his first NHL playoff goal.

Then the trading fun began again.

Following their runner-up finish in the Stanley Cup final, the Flyers traded Parent back to the Predators for the rights to Dan Hamhuis and a conditional 7th round pick. The condition was based on Hamhuis signing with the Flyers, which didn’t happen. As most Canucks fans know, Hamhuis signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. The Predators, though, did re-sign Parent as a restricted free agent to a two-year contract… then traded him less than four months later. The Predators traded Parent and Jonas Andersson to the Canucks for out-of-favour (and still fan favourite) defenseman Shane O’Brien and prospect bust Dan Gendur. So while the Predators made a swap with the Flyers between Hamhuis and Parent in June, both players ended up with the Canucks by the start of the 2010-11 season.

Because of Parent’s contract (he had to clear waivers before being called up) and the Canucks’ depth on the defense, he spent the vast majority of the season with the Manitoba Moose when he wasn’t injured. He barely factored into the regular season lineup for the Canucks last year with only 4 NHL games played, and only played 39 games with the Moose, finishing with 1G 1A 2Pts and 56 PIM.

Parent is back in the Canucks organization for the second year in his two-year contract. With the depth that the Canucks have on their back end, and the young up-and-comers that Vancouver has in their system, Parent is in very tough to make an impact at the NHL level. He has over 100 games of NHL experience but hasn’t really made an impact one way or another. He’s stuck around with the Flyers for three years (including a lengthy playoff run in 2010) and for this year with the Canucks, despite a few injuries. However, the Predators traded him away twice. These are the same Predators who are lauded for how they develop defensive talent in a strong, regimented defensive system. So was Parent not good enough for Trotz, Poile and co.? Or was the trade bait coming the other way too great to turn down? After all, they did trade for him again and they did sign him to a two-year contract.

So, it seems like with Ryan Parent, you have a player who is just good enough. Just good enough to warrant a new contract with the Predators. Just good enough to stick in the Flyers lineup (thanks to injuries to his teammates). Just good enough to remain in the Canucks organization for the meantime. Will he be good enough to factor into the Canucks roster this season?

From an article earlier this year from the Winnipeg Sun, Parent knows how he plays best.

"Most coaches tell me my best games are when they don’t notice me on the ice at all," said Parent, who appeared in his eighth game with the Manitoba Moose on Thursday night against the Milwaukee Admirals. "That’s when I’m most effective."

Ryan Blight, who covered the Moose last season, and now covers the Jets for Arctic Ice Hockey (the Jets blog at SB Nation) shared his insight on Parent and how he played with the Moose last season:

Like Parent says in the article, he is at his best when he isn’t noticeable. He only got into 39 games and 0 playoff games due to injuries but in the games that he did play he was rarely noticeable, which is a good thing. He isn’t and never will be a PP specialist or big point producer, but he can kill penalties and takes pride in playing solid defense. I wouldn’t consider him awful last season, he was solid defensively. 1 goal, 1 assist and 56 PIM’s was his stat line, which is in line with his past years. I thought he looked steady and played solid and smart defense and left the offensive part of the game to Baumgartner, Flood and the rest. He’s Willie Mitchell Lite.

One big plus for Parent is his size – he’s 6’3" 200 lbs. So if he can use his size to provide punishing hits in a shutdown defensive role, Parent has a good shot of impressing the powers-that-be. However, his one big minus is his age – he’ll be 25 by season’s end. While that’s still young in the life of an NHL defenseman, it’s quite old in terms of being a prospect. As Parent continues to duke it out with younger prospects to make the team, his age is certainly a negative factor. As the Canucks continue to adjust their lineup, an aging prospect in Parent might just be trade fodder again.

With the top 8 in the Canucks defensive depth (Hamhuis/Bieksa, Edler/Salo, Ballard/Tanev, Rome/Alberts) all but set this year, a spot on the Canucks blueline at any time will require a Canucks trade, or an injury or two, or both. And since it didn’t happen for Parent last year… will be better this year? And will he be improved enough to warrant a call-up? Parent has a lot of improving to do and has to impress a lot of people whose minds need changing in order for that to happen.

*** Big thanks to Ryan Blight for his insight and directed us to the Winnipeg Sun article referenced here.