MISSISSAUGA, CANADA - MAY 20: Nathan Beaulieu #28 of the Saint John Sea Dogs is congratulated by teammates Zack Phillips #7 and Jonathan Huberdeau #11 after scoring a goal against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in the opening game of the 2011 Mastercard Memorial Cup at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Canada. The Sea Dogs defeated the Majors 4-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Continuing with our prospect previews lets take a look at Zack Phillips of the QMJHL.
Phillips opened eyes this season with a massive 38 goals and 57 assists for 95 points in 67 regular season games this year for Saint John. He then backed that up with nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 17 playoff games.
Phillips, who plays on a line with expected top-five pick Jonathan Huberdeau, is a big-time player who's known for both his goal scoring abilities and his vision on the ice. For a Ranger's team that's in desperate need of offense, Phillips might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Now, just for full disclosure, the QMJHL is a very high scoring league. That's not to say the numbers aren't impressive, his 95 points were good for fifth place in the entire league, it's just something to note.
Join me after the jump for more analysis on Phillips. (Also, enjoy an actual photo of one of our draft prospects for a change. Phillips is number seven.)
Banged up his shoulder in the QMJHL championship series- if he misses Memorial Cup it will hurt him a bit mostly due to being out of sight, out of mind while linemate Huberdeau has stepped it up to another level. A bit of a surprise to the general public when he appeared ninth overall on The Hockey News' 2011 Draft Preview which was released last week in Canada. However, some scouts are telling us that Phillips in the top-10 isn't much of a shocker to them given his big goal scoring potential and a natural nose for the net that players like Jeff Skinner have forced NHL teams to respect. Phillips is not an explosive player, and he's certainly benefited from skating alongside playmakers like Huberdeau and Michael Kirkpatrick this season, but to insinuate that he's not a lethal scoring threat is to sell the former Massachusetts prep player short. The former Lawrence Academy standout (19 goals, 48 points in 30 games) from Fredericton, NB was involved in a car accident that killed teammate Mark Frattaroli in September 2008 (Frattaroli was driving when the vehicle struck a tree). Zack is an October 1992 birthdate, so he's on the older scale of the 2011 class, but he had a tremendous season with 38 goals and 95 points. At 6-1, 195 pounds, he can drive hard to the net and has outstanding hands to finish off plays in close.
Upside: First- or second-line winger and power play ace
Saint John head coach Gerard Gallant
"Zack has great vision and is strong on the puck. He's a solid center and has come a long way in a short time. He kind of reminds me of an Adam Oates-type of player ... he's strong on the puck down low and in the corners and has nifty hands."
SKINNY: Coach called him Adam Oates-like, but was top 10 in Q in goals and assists
All of the reports on Phillips say things you want to hear. The kid has a fantastic shot but, more importantly, he has a knack of being in the right place at the right time. That's one of those intangibles which cannot be taught, making it an obvious highlighted point in his draft profile. His vision is another talking point, garnering close to an assist per game this season.
If that wasn't enough to impress you then his playoff resume should push you over the edge. Just like in the regular season, he managed well more than a point per page in the playoffs, and was a key cog in the Sea Dogs playoff run. It's good to see a player, especially a young one, flourish so well in the playoffs.
Phillis has all the tools to be a power play monster, another area the Rangers are in desperate need of help, and even played the point a little for the Sea Dogs. His willingness to go into the tough areas of the ice and emerge with the puck really rounds him out as a first round pick. His willingness to drive the net really just puts the cherry on top.
Phillips, who most mock drafts have going in the 16-20 range, should be on the board when the Rangers make their pick.
Do you want to see Glen Sather, Gordie Clark and company call Phillips' name?