Kelly signs with Sens
Camrose native Parker Kelly parlayed a break out season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders into an amateur tryout with the Ottawa Senators this summer. This year he is off to a hot start with six points (five goals, one assist) in five games through Monday night. Lucas Chudleigh/ Apollo Multimedia
Parker Kelly did not let getting passed over at the NHL draft keep him down.
The Camrose native kept training and received an amateur tryout offer with the Ottawa Senators this summer. He played well enough to earn a pro contract from the club before being returned to the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders.
“It was pretty surreal, I was not expecting that coming out of Sens camp, but I knew I had a pretty good shot at it if I could be right up there with their draft picks, hang around them and put the press on them to sign me,” he said.
Kelly was projected to be a potential late-round pick in the past NHL entry draft, and with the bias against smaller skilled forwards slowly lifting in the league, there was a good chance he was going to be taken. Unfortunately, he did not hear his name called on draft night. However, it wasn’t long before the Senators were calling his agent.
“I wasn’t too disappointed. Obviously, it would have been nice for me to get drafted, but looking back on it, it was probably best for me not to get drafted,” said Kelly, who also received interest from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The five-foot-11, 168-pound centreman has come a long way since lighting it up with the Camrose Bantam AAA Vikings in 2013-14, when he scored 58 points (35 goals, 23 assists) in 31 games, and was drafted in the seventh round (141 overall) by the Raiders. After a season of midget AAA with the Sherwood Park Kings, he made his debut with the Raiders in 2015-16, scoring 19 points (8-11-19) in 68 games. Last year he took a big step forward, scoring 43 points (21-22-43) in 72 games. Parker has come out flying this season with six points in the Raiders first five games (5-1-6).
During camp, he took full advantage of the opportunity given him by the Senators, who signed him to a three-year entry level contract on Sept. 19.
“This is a guy that we wanted to invest in. He likes what he saw with us, he likes the opportunity here, he likes our development team, he likes the group and he thinks that this is a place that he’d like to commit to and we wanted to commit to him,” Senators general manager Randy Lee told ottawasentors.com. “It’s very rare that we do this but we stepped out of the box and said that he’s earned it so we offered him a contract. We’re happy that he’s a part of our family.”
The Senators are a lower budget team and rely heavily on filling out their roster with players they’ve drafted and developed, this includes players like Logan Brown, Ryan Dzingel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Mark Stone among others.
It is a path he believes he can follow in.
“They have lots of guys that come through the system and make it to the big leagues and actually have really good careers up in the show,” said Kelly. “Hopefully I can continue on my path and that’s where I end up. But it is definitely a huge honour to be in their organization.”
Right now, he is part of an improving Raiders team which is looking to take the next step in their rebuilding process and are currently second in the Eastern Conference Wild Card standings at 3-3-0.
“It’s huge, I think last year we ended up on a pretty good note, we were a .500 team after the trade deadline,” said Kelly. “I think some of the guys are coming in and expecting more from themselves. So far we’re doing that. The belief level is up, so it’s looking good right now.”