For the Minnesota Wild to replenish its prospect pool over the last two years, a lot of things had to happen. First among those were identifying the players that could eventually turn into NHL players. If they weren't signed as college free agents, the Wild then had to draft the players like Mikael Granlund
, Brett Bulmer
, Johan Larsson
, Jason Zucker
, Jonas Brodin
, Zack Phillips
and Mario Lucia
among others, or trade for them as they did with Charlie Coyle
Once that's done, the Wild has begun to move on with getting several of these players under contract. While Coyle, Zucker and Lucia are off limits due to their status as college eligible players, the rest can be signed. (Note: there is news that Coyle has left school to play with the Saint John Sea Dogs, meaning he would be eligible to sign if the Wild offered him a contract).
After today's signing of Phillips, the Wild's top priority will likely be Mikael Granlund
Phillips signed a three-year entry level contract with the Wild, meaning both of the Wild's 2011 first round picks have been locked up with deals.
"I've been trying to move forward ever since the Draft and work hard to keep the Wild happy with me," said Phillips after signing his contract. "This is a step in the right direction."
Phillips will remain with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he has exploded offensively this season. Through just 31 games, he's racked up 52 points (18-34=52) and a +30 rating. He is on pace to surpass his eye-popping totals last year when he registered 38 goals and 57 assists in 67 games as Saint John took the prestigious Memorial Cup title. In 17 postseason games, he notched nine goals and 15 assists.
With numbers like that, Hockey Canada was sure to take notice, which they did in inviting him to the World Junior Selection Camp. Phillips was eventually cut from the team, but considering very few kids make that team as 18-year-olds bodes well for him in the future.
"It was a good experience and I took a lot from it, and it's going to help me in the future."
For now, Phillips can forget about the contract, and hockey, as the QMJHL is on holiday break for a week. The time to relax can give Phillips some time to reflect on the last six months that saw him go in the first round, participate in the Wild's Development Camp, score a goal and an assist at the Traverse City Prospects tournament, play two Wild preseason games and then try out for Hockey Canada.
"When I really sit back and think about it, I'm pretty fortunate for what's happened to me and I'm happy about all of it."
The Wild is happy to have him, and their stable of young prospects.