AHL sniper Matthew Phillips signs with the Washington Capitals
Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
The Calgary Flames’ top American Hockey League scorer is headed to another organization. Forward Matthew Phillips has signed a one year, one-way deal worth $775,000 with the Washington Capitals. The deal was announced by the NHL club on Sunday morning.
The 25-year-old Phillips became a Group 6 free agent on July 1 after joining the Flames organization in 2016 as a sixth-round draft selection. Selected from the WHL’s Victoria Royals, Phillips is a Calgary product who came up through local minor hockey.
During seven seasons in the Flames system, Phillips emerged as a really impressive AHL offensive producer. He was a WHL all-star in his two seasons there after being drafted by the Flames, then he cemented himself as a top-flight scorer at the AHL level.
- In 2018-19, he had 38 points in 65 games with the Heat (0.585 points per game)
- In 2019-20, he had 33 points in 38 games with the Heat (0.868 points per game)
- In 2020-21, he had 21 points in 30 games with the Heat (0.700 points per game)
- In 2021-22, he had 68 points in 65 games with the Heat (1.046 points per game)
- In 2022-23, he had 76 points in 66 games with the Wranglers (1.152 points per game) – Phillips was named to the AHL’s first all-star team for this performance
That’s some impressive offensive production, made doubly impressive by the fact that Phillips was listed at 5’8″ and 160 pounds by the AHL: it’s not like he was bowling people over physically, he was using his speed and smarts. But the thing that made his AHL scoring success impressive was also the thing that hurt him from getting significant looks at the NHL. Despite scoring over 200 points for the Flames’ top farm team, he appeared just three times in the NHL – likely in part due to skepticism that he could do the same things in the NHL that he did in the AHL due to his size, and in part due to head coach Darryl Sutter’s preference for more established veteran players.
Flames GM Craig Conroy confirmed to the media on Thursday at the NHL Draft, responding to a question from FlamesNation, that the club had engaged in contract talks with Phillips. It’s believed that the Flames’ initial offer was for a two-year deal, with the first year being two-way and the second year being one-way.
Despite the Flames’ interest in him returning, Phillips has opted to follow his former AHL head coach Mitch Love to the Capitals organization for a fresh start. If he doesn’t end up making the Capitals’ NHL roster, he would likely find himself playing for the AHL’s Hershey Bears, the reigning Calder Cup champions. If he was going to leave his hometown, there are much worse places for him to land.
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