Victoria Royals Captain Matthew Phillips has started the new year off with a critical step toward his NHL dreams, signing a 3-year entry level contract with the Calgary Flames.
Phillips’ talent has always been undeniable, but at 5’7″ he’s had height-related hurdles to overcome. The Flames took a chance on Phillips’ by selecting him in the 6th round, 166th overall in the 2016 entry draft after an impressive 76-point WHL campaign that earned him Rookie of the Year honours. Nearly a year and a half later, they’ve given Phillips the opportunity to take his next step as a hockey player.
Anyone following the Royals can confirm the shifty center has absolutely earned it. Since being drafted by the Flames in June of 2016, Phillips has torn up the WHL, scoring 78 goals and 71 assists in 110 games. Pro-rated over a 72-game WHL campaign, that’s a 51-goal, 46-assist per season average – enough to populate the top-10 in WHL scoring most seasons.
One of a Select Few
Of course, it’s more than just talent that earns a player like Phillips an NHL commitment; there are dozens of players who put up impressive numbers in junior that won’t get a sniff of an NHL contract.
Phillips, however, is a player that is rarely outworked, never shies from physical contact, and crashes the crease like he’s 6’4″. Combine that with the leadership qualities that earned him the “C” this year, and it’s clear the Flames have more than a kid who can stickhandle. He’s a flat-out gamer and has taken it upon himself to improve every single day.
So far in the 2017-18 season, he’s done it all and leads the Royals with 28 goals and 59 points in 40 games.
Following the Victoria Royals season, the Calgary native will be given a chance to earn a spot for his hometown Flames.