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01-05-2013, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
I suppose it's as good a time as any for a first post. TL;DR version at the bottom.
I've been following the Aeros and these forums pretty closely all season and I must say I think it's a little early to write off Phillips. Like others have said, when compared the some of the other rookies on the team he's not playing that well, but look at who those rookies are. As it is, when you don't compare his game to the other rookies, 10pts through his first 30 professional games is not a bad start. That total could have also been quite a bit higher if it weren't for posts and great saves keeping the puck out of the net. Has he played poorly at times? For sure, but he has also shown the traits that helped him to get to where he is now, and put up the numbers he has in the past.
Another thing people don't seem to be taking into account is that what we're seeing this season is not the normal AHL. Every team in the league has players who would have full time spots on NHL rosters if this lockout wasn't going on, including the Aeros with the very people Phillips is being compared to. Phillips has always been and always will be a playmaker and a scorer and to do either of those things he needs skilled players on the ice around him. with the roster the way it is now it's been hard for him to find a consistent spot on one of the top lines where he would have both more skilled players around him, and more time on the ice.
It wouldn't have hurt Phillips to play another season in Junior but it also wouldn't have benefited him with pretty much the entire core of the Sea Dogs and Gerard Gallant(their coach) moving on with the exception of Huberdeau. I followed that team very closely since Zack was a rookie there and what he did there wasn't a fluke or simply a result of being surrounded by good players. Sure it was against 16-19 year olds, but it is also arguably the strongest part of the best junior hockey league in the world. Many of the defencemen and goalies he did all of that against are top NHL draft picks who have either found spots on NHL rosters, or are performing very well at the AHL level this season. The Sea Dogs over the last three seasons lost in the final of the QMJHL, won the QMJHL and then the Memorial Cup, and then last season won the QMJHL(in amazing fashion) and lost in the semis of the Memorial Cup. All of those results were hugely influenced by Zacks play both during the season and in the playoffs, and the way he performed when it really mattered at the Memorial Cup was very impressive.
I don't think the Wild expected Zack to jump right in this season and play like he has the past few years. I think they expected him to come in as a 19 year old fresh out of junior and take some time to find his game while learning to play with men. In the long run it will benefit his game far more to struggle in the AHL now rather than to spend another season tearing up the QMJHL/CHL where he has already done as much as a player can do. I expect he will soon find his game, the net, and we'll start seeing the great play I was used to in the past, and hopefully we can all be familiar with in the future.
edit: TL;DR version. Phillips, when you don't compare him to other guys who are highly skilled players who already have experience playing with men, isn't doing that bad. I followed his career closely throughout his CHL career and what he did there was no joke. He'll find his game, and he'll find a spot on a line with more talented players and people will be happy they were wrong about him.
Last edited by IcedEndeavor: 01-05-2013 at
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