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Matthew Phillips had a career year in sixth season with the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate

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Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
Paige Siewert
9 months ago
In the first-ever Calgary Wranglers game at home, two players, in particular, received a noticeably louder cheer than the rest of their teammates. That was Dustin Wolf and Matthew Phillips. Both are highly-ranked Calgary Flames prospects and Phillips has been a fan favourite in his tenure with the organization. Currently the longest-standing player in the AHL affiliation, Phillips continued to shine in 2022-23 with a career year that put him in the conversation as one of the best players in the league. 

By the numbers

Regular season

By no surprise, Matthew Phillips finished at the top of team scoring averaging 1.15 points per game and putting up a total of 76 points in the 66 games he played in. He also blew his teammates out of the water in game-winning goals with 15 over the course of the regular season. The next closest on the Wranglers was a tie with Clark Bishop, Cole Schwindt and Brett Sutter with four each and the next closest in the league was Raphael Lavoie of the Bakersfield Condors with nine.
One of his most impressive game-winners was an insanely fast play right off the overtime faceoff that he won with a quick release only seven seconds into the extra frame. 
Phillips went two for three in shootout attempts and played key roles in a variety of scenarios. The Wranglers’ Alternate Captain was glued to the first line regardless of his linemates. For much of the season, this was Jakob Pelletier and Radim Zohorna, but Zohorna’s trade deadline departure and Pelletier’s call-up put him playing with Dryden Hunt and Ben Jones towards the end of the regular season.
Phillips was also the guy you needed on the ice in game-deciding scenarios. He’d be getting the extra minutes and long shifts towards the end of games they were behind in, he’d be out on the top power play unit and he was a go-to for overtime shifts and shootout attempts.
He was also rolling in the points. He went on three large scoring runs throughout the season with the longest one being 11 games between mid-November to the end of December where he scored 21 points. Phillips also had one hat trick this season against the San Jose Barracuda on November 6th. 
Matthew Phillips was one of three Wranglers representatives to travel to Laval, Quebec this year to participate in the AHL All-Star weekend. The other two included Dustin Wolf and Head Coach, Mitch Love. Phillips was also recognized on the AHL’s First Team All-Star at the end of the regular season.

Post-season

In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Matthew Phillips was still a presence but did not dominate to the extent you would have liked someone of his skill to have. It was very obvious, especially in the Abbotsford series that he had a target on his back. His abilities were no secret to his opponents and they had to find a way to shut him down. The Canucks played Phillips very physically and didn’t give him many opportunities to break out of the zone and beat them speed-wise. Phillips can take a hit but this series really took a toll.
Phillips had a total of seven points in the nine playoff games he played in. I say nine loosely as he was ejected from one for a match-spearing penalty and only really played 10 out of 60 minutes. This also took place in the series again the Canucks, in the first game too. It really ended up setting a tone for his postseason and made an enemy of some of Abbotsford’s skaters. 
In this playoff stretch, Phillips’ seven points came from a goal and six assists. His single goal took place in the second game of the Abbotsford series, where he scored the overtime game-winner on the powerplay. This huge goal came the game right after his ejection so imagine the emotions attached to that one in particular. 

Highlights

Next season 

Phillips is perhaps one of the most talked about unrestricted free agents in the Calgary organization going into this off-season. Many feel he was snubbed of some opportunities he could have had with the Flames this season that ended up being overshadowed by the play of Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr. Something about Phillips’ time on his call-up and what he showed in his two NHL games did not earn him a more regular spot in the lineup.
With the Flames’ leadership and personnel changes that have already occurred, Phillips’ name has been thrown around as someone they are in talks with. Having a former Flame as general manager and his former coach for the Stockton Heat now coaching the Flames has got to help his cause and put a more favourable argument for staying with the organization. 
If the organization does not find a way to come to an agreement with Matthew Phillips this summer, there will be a very noticeable gap in the lineup that will not so easily be filled with the existing and upcoming talent within the prospect pool. The clock is ticking on a contract extension and July 1 is much closer than it appears.

Rating 

For being an integral part of the Wranglers’ lineup and one of the AHL’s best, I give Matthew Phillips an A+ rating for his season with Calgary.

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