Prospect: Matthew Phillips
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Acquired: Drafted 166th Overall in 2016 (Round 6)
Team: Victoria Royals
2016-17 Stats: 18 GP, 11 G, 9 A, 20 PTS, 10 PIM, +14
Throughout the season, we will be checking in weekly on one of the numerous prospects within the Calgary Flames organization, looking at players in the AHL, various CHL leagues, NCAA Hockey, as well as overseas. This gives an opportunity to get better acquainted with the progress of potential future Calgary Flames. This week, we take a look at Victoria Royals forward, Matthew Phillips.
The Flames took a home run swing on a undersized forward in the 6th round of the 2016 draft and it makes sense why. The Flames took a leap of faith in 2011 by drafting Johnny Gaudreau 104th overall and that paid off very nicely. After seeing Gaudreau’s success in the NHL, the Flames have drafted small, but offensively prolific forwards in the 6th round the past two seasons. Last year it was Andrew Mangiapane (who is having a nice start to his AHL career himself), this year it is Matthew Phillips. Matthew Phillips is listed at 5-foot-6, 140 pounds at the draft, which made him the smallest player to be selected in the 2016 draft. But why not give him a shot? Phillips was coming off a season in which he posted 76 points in 72 games for Victoria. He was recognized for his great season by being selected as the WHL rookie of the year. He obviously has some significant offensive upside and it seems like a worthwhile risk to use a 6th round pick on a player his size with that offensive ability, than on a player a foot taller than him who put up 20 points last season. With how the NHL is played now, you can be the size of Matthew Phillips and make an impact. Johnny Gaudreau is a prime example of this, so it was smart for the Flames to take a shot on Phillips so late in the draft.
Phillips is currently tied for second in team scoring on his Victoria Royals club, one point back of the team leader. Last night, Phillips scored 2 goals 14 seconds apart to help lead the Royals to a 4-2 Victory over the Tri-City Americans. He has the skills to be a difference maker in the WHL, he is a prospect whose development is worth monitoring over the coming seasons. It seems likely he will play junior for the duration of his eligibility and then be brought to the AHL to adjust to the pro game. Who knows how far Phillips can rise, but it is something to keep an eye upon in the years to come. A team can always use more high-end offensive talent.