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Photo Credit: courtesy Calgary Flames/NHL Media

Matthew Phillips could score 50 goals this season

Matthew Phillips is pretty good at ice hockey.

A sixth round selection by the Calgary Flames in the most recent NHL Draft, Phillips has been a very productive player in the Western Hockey League this season. With three games left on the schedule, Phillips has scored 48 goals and has a decent chance at hitting the rarefied air of the 50 goal mark.

Over the past five seasons, the 50 goal mark has been hit 10 times by nine players:

  • Dryden Hunt, 58 goals (as an overager) in 2015-16
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand, 63 goals (as a 19-year-old) in 2014-15 and 50 goals (as an 18-year-old) in 2013-14
  • Cole Sanford, 50 goals (as a 19-year-old) in 2014-15
  • Mitch Holmberg, 62 goals (as an overager) in 2013-14
  • Todd Fiddler, 50 goals (as an overager) in 2013-14
  • Emerson Etem, 61 goals (as a 19-year-old) in 2011-12
  • Brendan Shinnimin, 58 goals (as an overager) in 2011-12
  • Ty Rattie, 57 goals (as an 18-year-old) in 2011-12
  • Adam Hughesman, 50 goals (as an overager) in 2011-12

Phillips was born in 1998, so this is considered his 18-year-old season. Only two players in their 18-year-old seasons have hit 50 goals: Bjorkstrand and Rattie.

This season, Tyler Steenbergen – who’s about three months older than Phillips – is the first WHL player to hit 50 goals. He isn’t in the overall points race, though, as he only has 36 assists for 86 total points. Tyler Wong has 49 goals, while Sam Steel is tied with Phillips with 48.

The last Flames draft pick to score 50 goals in the WHL was 2009 pick Ryan Howse, who scored scored 51 in his 19-year-old season with the Chilliwack Bruins (technically the same franchise as the Victoria Royals).

Victoria plays the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday and then finishes off their schedule with a pair of games against Eetu Tuulola and the Everett Silvertips on Saturday and Sunday.

  • Cfan in Van

    I watched Matt quite a bit last season when I was still living in Vic. I was definitely stoked when the Flames got him in the 6th, and even happier with how this season has gone for him. It’s a “tall order” for such a little dude to make it in the NHL, but I’m a believer.

    • Lucky 13

      I’m fortunate enough to be able to watch Matthew Phillips, living in Victoria and all. The kid is gifted for sure and plays centre among players who are twice his size. I’m hoping he can translate that skill into the NHL one day.

      Looking at this list though is not one that bodes well. I lived in Medicine Hat for a few years and watched Emerson Etem play with the Tigers. He looked and played like a man among boys. He was definitely ahead physically than any other player on his team in terms of size and speed.
      Interesting that he never got a lot of time in the NHL, I think he plays for Anaheims farm team at the present. I thought for sure he was going to make a splash in the NHL, goes to show how tough it is to make the show on a regular basis.

      • McRib

        I still can’t believe Emerson Etem busted, he was so dominant with Medicine Hat, at this point I don’t know if I would ever draft a California kid, as they all seem to bust or come in way under expectations. (Etem, Blum, Wahl, Bennett, etc).

        Oliver Bjorkstrand will be a good player (most recent to score 50 Goals at 18). I also don’t understand how Ty Rattie hasn’t been given a longer look in the NHL at this point, I mean he has 0.40 PPG for Carolina this season (career 0.26 PPG) in five games in limited ice. It’s a small sample, but why in the world would Carolina of all teams not give him a longer look… Even if the players on this list haven’t turned out as NHLers they all have become good AHLers worse case, competition at the AHL is good regardless for the overall player development as a franchise.

  • Baalzamon

    Not gonna lie, when I saw that picture I thought this article was about Ryan Culkin and assumed it would be something about the Flames cutting him loose (or sending him to the ECHL).

    Funny thing is Phillips and Culkin don’t even look that much alike.

  • CussingTortoise

    Got to watch him live in Red Deer. Unfortunately it was the 3rd game in 3 nights for the Royals so the whole team was burnt out (Rebels won 6-1 or something like that). He was pretty much invisible all night with only a couple flashes of incredible skill. It should be noted he was coming off scoring back-to-back hat tricks. So I was really disappointed the only time I got to see him live was an off night for him.

    Like all small players I’m a bit concerned about his size. He is smaller than Gaudreau! I see how Johnny can, at times, be dominated physically and Phillips worries me a bit when he goes pro. Still very excited about this prospect.

  • I saw him on the weekend here in Kelowna. He didn’t register a point, but he had a handful of scoring chances including a couple of breakaways.

    He is small, though not afraid to engage. Not afraid to go to the corner and battle for the puck, and was even the net front presence on the PP. He drew at least 2 penalties (including one from fellow Flames pick Dube).

    All in all, not a sure thing but I’ll take a Philips over a Kanzig any day.