While the Calgary Flames have punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat are in the midst of a battle for the last Pacific Division playoff spot. Well, the Heat just got some reinforcements. The club announced today that they’ve signed junior star Matthew Phillips to an amateur try-out deal.
Phillips, who turned 19 yesterday, was a sixth round selection by the Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft. He followed his selection with an incredible offensive season for the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals – he amassed 50 goals (tied for third in the WHL) and 90 points (tied for ninth in the WHL) – despite being a small, small man and younger than most of the guys ahead of him.
The Royals were eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week (losing the longest major-junior game in CHL history) but it seems that the Flames organization wants to see what Phillips can do at the next level. As a 1998-born player, Phillips won’t be eligible for full-time AHL duty until the 2018-19 season but this should provide a nice benchmark of his progress over the last year.
Stockton also recalled goalie Mason McDonald from the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder to act as backup to David Rittich, likely for the remainder of the season. McDonald posted a 13-9-2 record with a 2.72 goals against average and a .897 save percentage.
Stockton is two points up on the Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers’ farm team, for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Both teams have five games remaining in the regular season.