Red Wings of Tomorrow is assessing every prospect in the Detroit Red Wings system and what they are projecting to be in the future. We’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their game, as well as what the future holds for them as they advance through the Detroit organization. Today, we feature center Ethan Phillips
How Acquired: Selected 97th overall, 2019 NHL entry draft
2021-22 Stats: (GP-G-A-P) 28-6-11-17 (with Boston U)
Contract Status: Unsigned
Anticipated 2022-23 Team: Boston Terriers (Hockey East)
Growing up in Dartmouth, N.S., Ethan Phillips was immersed in major junior hockey. His family billeted players who performed for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. Among the kids they housed over the years was New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier. In fact, Phillips was there at the United Center, sitting next to Hischier when he was tabbed first overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft.
Later, the family also took in current Red Wings forward Filip Zadina.
Despite this junior hockey connection, Phillips opted to go the college hockey route. He accepted a scholarship to play for the Boston Terriers.
Here’s an example of #28 Ethan Phillips (@DetroitRedWings) of BU. Real smart player with good feel for the game & hands to pay off his decisions. He was committed to Quinnipiac for 2+ years after QU assistant Bill Riga saw talent. Decommitted right before signing period last year pic.twitter.com/7URUPD28hx
— Chicken Boi (@Buccigross) November 23, 2019
“Since I was young, the college atmosphere is what I’ve wanted,” Phillips explained. “The whole school spirit, kind of having the whole community behind you is something really cool. Having the opportunity to get the top-notch education is big for me and my family.”
The way his college hockey career is unfolding, Phillips may be requiring that college education to fall back on sooner rather than later. He enjoyed a decent freshman campaign, tying for 10th on the team in scoring. But an injury cost him all but one game of his sophomore season.
At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Phillips doesn’t have a career as an NHL grinder in his future. He’s not going to be winning many one-on-one battles.
“Skating is definitely my best asset,” Phillips said. “I try to use my speed and creativity.”
Estimated Time of Arrival in Detroit
The offensive skillset that enabled Phillips to count 16 goals and 43 points in 50 games while helping the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede win the Calrk Cup title in his draft year simply haven’t transferred to the college level. He was good for just six goals and 17 points as a junior at BU.
Phillips is need of a massive senior campaign in which he plays a dominant role for the Terriers in order to turn the heads of the Red Wings brass. He wouldn’t be the first Detroit draft pick to sign after a four-year college career. Chase Pearson did so out of Maine.
Best I can do to find footage of the play against BU that got Chase Bradley suspended.
Coming in from out of the frame on the right, looks like he slew-foots, or at least dangerously trips Ethan Phillips.
— Patrick Donnelly (@PatDonn12) January 17, 2022
However, Pearson offers a 200-foot game and potential as a role player. Phillips needs to make a mark with his offensive skill. And time is running out for him to do so.