After losing several depth players to their AHL affiliate on the first day of free agency, the Washington Capitals tried to replace what they lost in a big way on Sunday. The Capitals handed out a one-way deal ($775,000) to forward Matthew Phillips.
Phillips, 25, was one of the AHL’s top players this past season, recording 76 points (36g, 40a) in 66 games. Notably, he put up those numbers with the Calgary Wranglers under the watch of now Capitals assistant coach Mitch Love.
NEWS | The Capitals have re-signed goaltender Hunter Shepard to a two-year, two-way contract, defenseman Dylan McIlrath to a two-year, two-way contract, forward Pierrick Dubé to a two-year, two-way entry level contract and forward Matthew Phillips to a one-year, one-way contract.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 2, 2023
Phillips was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round of the 2016 draft and has been a pro for five seasons now. He has been a point-per-game player in the AHL for two seasons in a row now under Love, also grabbing 68 points (31g, 37a) in 65 games during the 2021-22 season.
He helped the Wranglers clinch the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s top team during the 2022–23 season and also represented them at the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic. Despite that tremendous AHL success, he only received three games at the NHL level with Calgary over the past three years. He has yet to record his first NHL point.
Before making the jump to the AHL, Phillips played parts of four seasons with the Victoria Royals in the WHL where he was teammates with former Caps prospect Eric Florchuk. In his final junior campaign, Phillips tallied 112 points (48g, 64a) in 71 games.
Phillips stands at just five-foot, eight-inches tall and weighs in at 160 pounds according to his AHL bio. According to Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli, he turned down a two-year offer from Calgary to sign with the Caps.
It’s no surprise that Phillips decided to leave the Flames after receiving an inconsequential look in the NHL last season under the very hard to please Darryl Sutter. Sutter even had a bit of a confrontation with a reporter when asked if Phillips was due more opportunity.
Here’s his full exchange with TSN’s Salim Valji.
Valji: Matthew Phillips is coming off a pretty impressive month on the farm team. Have you looked at the farm as sort of an option maybe to add a little bit to your group right now, or?
Sutter: So are we talking about the farm or are we talking about Matthew Phillips?
Valji: Well, Matthew Phillips is among the AHL leaders and I think fans are kind of curious if he’ll get –
Sutter: Yeah, well, you were curious about it three years ago so you can keep your curiosity. I watch the farm team live more than I have at any point since I’ve been here and it’s still very much, the team’s doing really well but there’s a big difference between American League to the NHL in terms of production.
Phillips’ one-way contract means that he’ll be paid the same amount of money regardless of whether he plays in the NHL with the Caps or the AHL with the Bears. After losing names like Garrett Pilon and Mason Morelli on Saturday, he’ll bring some much-needed organizational depth scoring.
Headline photo: David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
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