26. RW Zach Phillips – Saint John (QMJHL)
DOB: Nov. 28/92 | Shoots: R | Height: 6.01 | Weight: 181lbs Midterm Rank: 34 | League Rank: 4th QMJHL | Country Rank: 13th Canada
Zack Phillips is one of many Saint John Seadogs that will hear his name called at the 2011 NHL Entry draft. The Sea Dogs spent most of the year as the number 1 team on the CHL rankings and as expected won the QMJHL Championship and the Memorial Cup. Head coach Gerard Gallant has done a tremendous job of getting his team focused on winning. It would be easy for these young men to be more focused on getting drafted high but it was evident that everyone’s priority was to win.
Phillips had every intention of playing NCAA hockey. Chances are that if he had not changed his mind you may not even have heard of him yet. Instead, Zach chose to go play in the QMJHL and it’s safe to say he has no regrets. In his two QMJHL seasons he has been to the Q finals twice, winning once and is coming off a Memorial Cup championship. He has adapted very well to the speed of the game and has gelled very well with his linemates which include Jonathan Huberdeau who is also highly touted for the upcoming NHL draft. At only 18 years old Phillips had almost 100 points and 40 goals this season which is very impressive in today’s QMJHL.
Typically, scorers like Phillips can be a liability in their own end due to only thinking about offense but Phillips plays hard in the defensive zone. He is not afraid to use his 6’1 and 181 frame to make a hit or block a shot and coach Gerard Gallant has used him to kill penalties. Phillips could ,however, stand to improve his faceoff ability.
An underrated part of his game is his playmaking. He sees the ice very well and is a good passer. He makes everyone around him better by giving them solid passes. It keeps the defense and especially goalies honest when they can’t over commit on the shot because he will burn them with a pass.
Zack has also proved that he can be a big game player. In the QMJHL playoffs he finished with 24 points including 9 goals; 2 of which were game winners. In the final of the Memorial Cup he had the game winning goal and added an assist on the insurance marker on a nice two on one with the skilled Huberdeau. His goal was a typical Phillips goal where he managed to be left alone in front and Huberdeau made a pass right on he tape and he made no mistake and fired a quick shot for the goal.
Phillips’ strengths are easily his hockey sense and shot. He has a quick release and always seems to be wide open for a shot. This can be attributed to being on a great team and playing with great players but there is no denying Phillips has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to score goals. If Phillips can continue to develop and improve his speed he should be a solid NHLer in the future.
Pros: Hockey sense and hands
Skillset comparison: Patrick Sharp