2022-23 Team: Victoria Royals
Date of Birth: Oct 12, 2004
Place of Birth: Clavet, SK.
Height: 6-foot, Weight: 187 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
One of the oldest first-year draft-eligible players in the draft, Victoria Royals’ Kalem Parker continued to improve throughout the season and showed he is capable of playing big minutes effectively. As Victoria’s top defenceman, he played in all situations and was their primary matchup defender against the opposition’s top lines. A great skater who performed well in the transition game, he is one of those under-the-radar prospects who may not be discussed during the season but really impresses in training camp for whichever team drafts him.
Where Parker shines is transitioning the puck out of his own zone and through center ice. He loves to lead the charge into the offensive zone and is able to draw in defenders, opening up space for his teammates. Once in the offensive zone, he is not afraid to pinch down the boards and move around the zone with the puck on his stick to change the angle, aiming to create better scoring chances. He also has the ability to deliver crisp, cross-ice passes to find open teammates, as well as long breakout passes, when he notices one of his forwards has already made their move up the ice.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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Parker is also a player that isn’t afraid to play an aggressive style in his own zone. He likes to pressure the opposing puck carrier, getting right up in their face and is always looking for the chance to throw a massive hit in open ice. While he still needs to work on his overall timing of when to be aggressive and when to sit back, it is a good sign that he has developed that instinct, as it led to more than a few created turnovers and opportunities for his team to clear the zone this season.
This season, Parker put up a career-high six goals and 38 points in 68 games. He also led all Royals players with 14 power play assists and passed the 100-shot plateau for the first time in his career. Despite Victoria struggling the past two seasons, missing the postseason in both years, he continued to deliver standout performances and was named the top defenceman on the team this past season.
While there are a lot of traits that make Parker an intriguing prospect, the reason he will be a later-round pick is his overall play in the defensive zone. While he is a decent defender, there are areas that need improvement, like his ability to strip players of the puck through poke checks or winning board battles against bigger opposition. The good news is these are areas of his game that did show improvement throughout the season and traits that can be developed more with the help of an NHL franchise.
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Kalem Parker- NHL Draft Projection
Parker has developed to the point that he should be a mid to late-round pick. He also plays a premium position as a right-handed defenceman and has some Hockey Canada experience, as he was part of the U18 team in 2022. For these reasons, expect him to be picked in the late fourth round/early fifth round, somewhere between 120th and 130th overall.
“I really like the way Parker has progressed this season, taking the reins as the Royals’ top defenceman and logging big minutes in all situations for the team. Parker’s skating, while always a relative strength, has only continued to improve, and the fluidity of his stride really complements his playstyle.” – Donesh Mazloum, FC Hockey.
“The key to a lot of success for Parker is how quick he is able to adjust to plays through the fluidity of his skating. His turns, edges, cuts, and forward strides allow him to gain ground on almost every situation by either eliminating a player along the boards by taking their lane or cutting away from pressure on retrievals behind the net.”- Joel Henderson, FC Hockey.
- Defending against the oppositions transition game
- Transitioning the puck out of his own zone
- Willingness to play aggressively
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Use of stick while defending
- Timing of when to play aggressive
- Winning board battles
Parker is a prospect that is willing to put in the work and has shown he can succeed under pressure. He is still developing, but based on the progress that he made this season, there is absolutely a path for him to make the NHL one day. If he does, expect him to be a third-pair defenceman who sees time on the penalty kill.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 2.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 5/10, Defense – 5.5/10
Achievements & Awards
- 2018-19 SAAHL U15 Champion