#21: Matthew Phillips
Team: Victoria Royals (WHL)
Draft: 2016 #166th Overall
Last Year: Unranked
Matthew Phillips is one of the most intriguing prospects in the Calgary organization. Listed at just five-foot-seven, 141 pounds, he is definitely not an average sized guy for a future professional hockey player.
However, his skill cannot be denied, which is why the Calgary Flames (who have a pretty good track record with smaller forwards) took a chance on him near the end of the 2016 draft. At that time, he was coming off a season in which he posted 76 points in 72 games and was named the WHL Rookie of the Year. He had shown that he was able to produce at the junior level to a significant enough degree to be worthy of a late round draft pick. Even so, it was imperative that he brought his production to an even higher level if he wanted to get in the conversation for being a future candidate for the Calgary Flames.
He did that this past season. Phillips had a terrific sophomore season in the WHL, where he managed to score 50 goals and added 40 assists for a very strong 90 point season. Only 2 players scored more goals, with 51 each.
For a player his size, the only way Phillips is going to be able to make it in the NHL is if he is able to contribute offensively. However, he is not the same sort of player as Johnny Gaudreau. While he does have some of that flash to his game, he spends a lot of time going to the dirty areas rather than playing on the perimeter. In that sense, he may be more likened to someone like former Flame Paul Byron, but perhaps with a bit more offensive talent.
It has been a fantastic year since being drafted for Phillips. He managed to get into an AHL game with Stockton at the end of the year, where he had an assist. Now, in addition to getting a lot more recognition from the Flames' fan base, it appears Hockey Canada has also taken notice.
After being overlooked for last year's World Junior Championship, Phillips was invited to Team Canada's Summer Camp this year. Needless to say, he has made a bit of an impression.
Matty is a beauty and a very exciting prospect. https://t.co/Co6KOt8zuD— Matchsticks&Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) August 2, 2017
Phillips is going to need to continue to improve his offensive production in what will likely be his final season in the WHL. 50 goals was very impressive, but can he do it again and break 100 points this time? Can he produce at a level where Canada cannot afford to leave him off of their 2018 World Junior Championship squad?
As a small guy with a ton of skill and the odds are against him, but if he makes it, he could be a very fun player to watch. I'm cheering for the dude.
*Note: I'll be living in Victoria this upcoming season. I plan on attending a few games of the Royals and will be sure to provide an update on what I see from young Matthew.