Over the last few games the Nashville Predators have really struggled to find depth scoring from their younger players, and Juuso Parssinen is one of those important pieces to the puzzle, but he has now been assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals.
Parssinen has been a mainstay in the Predators starting lineup since his NHL debut on November 12, 2022. He scored a goal in his NHL debut against the New York Rangers, and since then has only missed time in the NHL in brief stints.
Now in his second year in the NHL, Parssinen has had a difficult time finding consistency. No one should really be surprised by a 22-year-old player that's a former seventh-round draft pick hitting a speed bump in their NHL journey.
This is actually a wise move by the Predators to send Parssinen down to the Milwaukee Admirals now while he his waivers exempt and coming up on being a restricted free agent in the 2024 offseason.
Parssinen needs to find his game again, and rebuild the confidence that we saw oozing out of him right from his NHL debut 14 months ago. Let's not be quick to forget his insane puck skills like what he did to the Wild in April of last season.
It's totally understandable for a young player like Parssinen to get frustrated in their second year in the big leagues and maybe overthink things and get caught in a rut.
We know Parssinen has the raw talent to be an everyday NHL player, and a top six impact player at that. But second years in the NHL are usually really difficult for most young players. The NHL is an enormously hard league to stick around in, which is why when you see a grinder like Ryan O'Reilly surpass 1,000 NHL games it really is truly amazing stuff.
Parssinen has had a Difficult Time Impacting the Offense
The most noticeable decrease in Parssinen's numbers have to do with his offensive impact, and it's not just scoring goals. He wasn't a big time goal scorer in his first season, either. He has some empty net goals this season to bring his total to eight goals overall, but the more glaring deficiency is only having four assists.
Parssinen put up 19 assists in his first NHL season, and seven of those came on the power play. This season has has had virtually zero impact on the power play while being moved all around the lineup from the second line down to the fourth line.
Before Gustav Nyquist was moved to the top line for the long-term, Parssinen debuted the 2023-24 season on the top line at Tampa Bay and scored a goal in that game.
Not counting his two empty net goals this month, Parssinen has scored just three goals in the last two months. It's not just Parssinen, but the entire team that's having a bad time finding secondary scoring behind the top line.
Parssinen was a healthy scratch in Monday's 4-1 loss to the Panthers. Kiefer Sherwood has found his way back to being a starter, Denis Gurianov has played in eight games since being called up, and Michael McCarron was back in after being healthy scratched for two games.
So as you can see, Head Coach Andrew Brunette is having to scramble up his depth pieces lately trying to find a spark behind the top line.
Some Extended Time with Admirals Will Be Beneficial for Parssinen
Let's get something straight here; Parssinen as a seventh-round round pick in 2019 has only played 19 games on the AHL level. He appeared in nine playoff games for Milwaukee in 2022 and put up three points, and played in only 10 games the following regular season and tallied nine points.
So in other words, we haven't really seen what Parssinen can do on the AHL level. Getting him back to that crucial step in his pro hockey journey can end up being vital to his long-term future in the NHL. We need to see what he can do as an everyday AHL player.
The Predators really only had Parssinen's time overseas playing in Liiga, a profressional league in Finland, to go off of before bringing him right into the NHL. He took off so fast once being called up to the NHL that there was never an argument to send him to the AHL. That is until now.
From a scouting and coaching perspective, Parssinen getting some extended time with the Milwaukee Admirals will offer a lot to identify what needs to be fixed in his game. If he flourishes for the Admirals for a month, then the Predators can eventually call him back up to finish this season.
Who knows where the Predators will be at in the standings a month from now, but if they've completely fallen out of the playoff picture then a roster shake up could happen at the trade deadline, and that will make room for Parssinen to get back to the NHL for the last month or so.
With Parssinen out of the picture for now, the Predators sit at 22 players on the active roster and have a spot available. Maybe that player is Egor Afanasyev to make his season debut against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
Afanasyev makes the most sense to get the call up to replace Parssinen, but you also have veteran Mark Jankowski as a possibility or Liam Foudy could get another chance. I would pump the brakes on calling up Joakim Kemell or Fedor Svechkov right now. It's probably too soon for them at this juncture in the season.
The Predators have an off day on Wednesday to figure some things out for their lineup against the Minnesota Wild. Must win games don't exist in January, but it really does feel like a game you have to have to reverse the bad mojo this team is going through at the moment.
The preferred result from Parssinen being sent to the Admirals is he recaptures that confidence he brings, makes a noticeable impact on that team and eventually gets called back up to finish out the 2023-24 campaign for the Predators. It might take until post-trade deadline for that to happen, though.