Analyzing the Addition of Tom Parisi

In a collegiate career that spanned four seasons and 144 games, Tom Parisi won a national title and recorded 55 career points. | Photo: Matt Dewkett

In a collegiate career that spanned four seasons and 144 games, Tom Parisi won a national title and recorded 55 career points. | Photo: Matt Dewkett

On March 23, 2016 the Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of NCAA free agent Tom Parisi to a two-year entry-level contract. They also announced that Parisi will report to the St. John’s IceCaps on an amateur try-out agreement to finish out the season.

Tom Parisi was a member of the incredible 2014-2015 Providence College Friars team that won the NCAA Championship despite being an afterthought for many. On route to the victory, Parisi scored two key goals, including the winner in the regional finals and the game-tying goal in the championship game.

While Providence bowed out in the regional semi-finals this year, Parisi still had an excellent year, and has been rewarded with an entry-level deal. He plays both special teams, and excels against top competition. However, he had just 16 points in 38 games this year, and has posted numbers at a mostly stagnant rate in the NCAA.

So what made Tom Parisi one of the best available NCAA free agents? This article will attempt to answer that question.

The first area of Parisi’s game that stands out is his skating ability. He has the prototypical “great skater” stride–long, powerful, upright. By no means is his first step explosive, but his top-end speed is, allowing him to lug the puck with relative ease. Furthermore, he’s a powerful backwards skater who has a knack for keeping up with and boxing out the biggest and fastest forwards. His edge work has improved significantly, as have his pivots, making him tough to beat on the rush.

The next aspect that really impresses is Parisi’s hockey sense. His decision-making instantly becomes among the best for defenders in the Habs prospect pool. His positioning is as good as it gets for NCAA defenders, and he makes decisions at a fast rate.

This combination of hockey sense and skating makes Parisi tremendous in his own zone. The excellent backwards skating works well his Parisi’s aggressive gap control, allowing to always be within reach of an opposing forward. While he does have a bit of a tendency to get caught puck watching, his skating ability and composed nature allow him to recover. He quickly covers ice, allowing him to activate into the rush as a trailer, or occasionally lead it. It’s quite rare to see Parisi make a glaring mistake, and even rarer to see him fail to recover from it.

It is defending off the rush where Parisi really shines. As mentioned, his gap control is excellent. Furthermore, he’s surprisingly strong, as evident by his ability to win puck battles with ease and maintain possession despite intense pressure. Around the net, Parisi clears the crease and ties up forwards swiftly and effectively. After winning the puck, Parisi quickly turns the puck up the ice, typically with his great vision. He makes a fabulous breakout pass, but also shows quality puck rushing ability when he sees an opportunity to carry it.

It’s in the offensive zone where Parisi’s flaws appear. While he’s rarely utilizes the dump-out, he can be reliant on dump-ins (Although this very well could be the result of Providence’s system). However, he has demonstrated the ability to make some fabulous controlled zone entries. The quick hands that he flashes in the defensive and neutral zones aren’t evident in the offensive zone. While he displays the same high level of vision, he can be indecisive with the puck on his stick. Parisi’s shot has improved, but he still doesn’t get much power behind it. For the most part, he shoots intentionally wide or shoots for rebounds/deflections. By no means is he an instinctual offensive player, as evident by his lack of creativity.

However, Parisi is quite good at holding the zone. His smarts and skating are consistently on display when making pinches. Possessing excellent hand-eye coordination, Parisi is able to knock down clearing attempts and errant passes to hold the zone and keep the pressure on. He isn’t a liability in the offensive zone, but the “wow moments” are few and far between.

Overall, Parisi is a rock-solid defender with quality puck moving ability and a knack for spending as little time in the defensive zone as possible. While he lacks the shot and creativity to be a real offensive threat, he does showcase controlled zone exit and entrance ability, as well as a penchant for holding the zone. His active stick, skating ability, smarts, and strength make him a well-rounded, steady, and consistent defender.

At the very least, Parisi should make a fabulous addition the IceCaps. I do believe that he has NHL potential, as his two best assets (skating and hockey sense) are highly projectable. Although he appears to lacks offensive upside, there’s definitely NHL ability here. How much? That will become clearer as he transitions to professional hockey.

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One Response to Analyzing the Addition of Tom Parisi

  1. He sounds like Tom Gilbert with better skating.

    Andrew Fearon March 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm Reply

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