With their second of three picks in this year’s draft, the Flames opted for left shooting winger Parker Bell out of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans (where Juuso Valimaki played his junior hockey). Let’s take a deeper dive into Bell’s game.
The biggest thing (pun intended) that is being talked about with Bell is his size. The 6’4″, 201 pound forward is not only very large, but is good at using his frame to get to the dangerous parts of the ice. He plays like a power forward, doing his part to crash the net and create chances in tight.
The other area that has really been talked about with Bell is his shot. Prior to this season, Bell had just one goal to his name in 61 WHL games over two seasons. This season he potted 18 and added 31 helpers for a total of 49 points in 64 games. Playing on the basement-dwelling Americans, he finished second on his team behind overager Samuel Huo. Among under-19-year-old skaters, Bell finished 37th this season, which isn’t bad but does not jump off the page.
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In his annual conversation on Fan960, Tod Button talked about how raw Bell is, but that the Flames’ WHL scouts believe he has a huge ceiling. The one thing that really stood out was he said that Bell hadn’t really trained a lot as a kid, but believe that with the right regiments and opportunities he could become a player for the team.
Bell’s next steps
The Flames clearly believe in this kid, but it will take time for him to develop into this type of player. The team has a lot of playmakers in the organization, from Jakob Pelletier to Connor Zary to Matthew Phillips and more, but do not have a lot of crash and bang type forwards who can play hard in front of the net. Bell is that type of guy.
If he can develop his game at the WHL and AHL level, he projects to being a bottom-six winger in the NHL who can crash and bang around the net and create scoring chances. In the fifth round, if you can find any type of NHLer, this is a really good haul. The team has been particularly bad at finding even players that can play in the AHL in the fifth round, and hopefully Bell can change this.
Bell will be back with Tri-City this coming season, and will be looking to take a big step forward in his game. His coach, Stu Barnes, had high praise for the winger, calling him a player who is “hungry to score… all the time.” If he can improve his point totals and come in around the point-per-game mark this coming season, Bell could earn himself an entry-level contract and head up to the AHL. From there, sky’s the limit for him.
A big player with a strong shot and the willingness to crash the net hard to score goals is something that this organization does not have a lot of. While he is not going to be in the NHL conversation anytime soon, there is a lot to get excited about with Bell.