This morning the Senators announced that the organization has signed undrafted free agent Parker Kelly to a three-year entry level contract.
The 18-year old recently attended this summer’s development camp as a invitee and obviously he impressed management enough to not only garner an invite to the organization’s training camp but also land his first professional contract.
So what is there to know about Parker Kelly?
Well, Kelly spent much of his draft year failing to pique the attention and interests of scouts. Kelly only scored four goals in the first half of the 2016-17 WHL season and after only registering eight goals and 19 points in 68 games the previous season with the Prince Albert Raiders, it’s easy to understand why scouts would be leery of him.
As a relatively diminutive player — Eliteprospects.com lists him at 5’11 and 168 lbs — that kind of production isn’t going to move the needle. That Prince Albert was one of the worst teams in the WHL last season probably didn’t help Kelly’s cause either. Struggling players on bad teams tend to get overlooked.
A funny thing happened in the second half of the 2016-17 season however. Kelly started to find the score sheet and the back of the net consistently.
Kelly scored 17 goals in the second half of his season and this production finally led to some recognition by Central Scouting which ranked him as the 192nd best North American skater in their final rankings before the 2017 NHL Draft.
Sure, it’s still a low ranking, but at least with Kelly, the Senators have to be hoping that they’ve uncovered some late-blooming talent who has a chance to continue to grow and develop into a productive professional.
In an article for Prince Albert Now, Kelly attributed his improved play to “being more comfortable in a top-six role for his massive upgrade in goal production, as well as playing with other offensive options team’s leading scorer Simon Stransky, newly-acquired Curtis Miske, and overagers in Cavin Leth and captain Tim Vanstone.”
According to CapFriendly.com, Kelly’s ELC puts the Senators at 45-professional contracts, so the organization is still well within their 50-contract limit, so why not roll the dice on a player who doesn’t cost the organization anything besides money? What’s the harm in bringing in some organizational depth without having to burn any draft picks or assets, especially when this player has a chance to wind up being a lot better than many scouts gave him credit for?
The simple answer is: there isn’t any harm.
Welcome to the organization, Parker.