Weight: 195 Pounds
Date of birth: September 28, 2001
Hometown: Barrie, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 4, 80th overall, 2017 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|C Prospect||C Prospect||76 N.A.||
Sudbury Wolves blueliner Isaak Phillips (a.k.a. Isaac) played his Minor Midget hockey during the 2016-2017 season for the Barrie Colts. He appeared in 35 games and scored 6 goals and assisted on 17 others. The Wolves selected Phillips in the 4th round, 80th overall at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Phillips would play Junior A hockey during the 2017-2018 season with the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. In 52 games, Phillips scored 3 times and assisted on 8. There, Phillips had a bit of a growth spurt. He went from 5’10 and 149 pounds at the time of his draft to the 6’3” and 195 pounds. He got to play a lot of important minutes and develop into a fine skater while also getting to play in all situations.
In July of 2018, Phillips took part in an interesting and fun tournament, the Team Elite Hockey Prospect Showcase in Toronto for none other then Team Jamaica and helped the Jamaican’s skate away with the Championship. Team Jamaica was made up of players whose heritage is Jamaican, Caribbean or West Indies. Phillips paternal Grandparents hail from St Vincent Island.
Last season, Phillips made the Wolves opening night roster and recorded his first OHL point with an assist against the Niagara IceDogs on November 4, 2018. One night later, he would record his first OHL goal against the Erie Otters. He would finish the year with 3 goals and 11 assists while appearing in all 68 regular season games.
This year, when the season was ended due to the coronavirus, Phillips scored 9 goals and 17 assists while again appearing in every game – 63 at that point.
Phillips is an effortless skater with a long powerful stride who can cover a lot of ice in a short amount of time. He has good mobility and speed for a defender of his size and the growth spurt he had didn’t seem to affect his skating at all. His overall skating abilities are up there with the other defenders in the draft class.
With a September 28 birthdate, Phillips is one of the older defenders in the draft class, missing 2019 draft class by just 13 days. One can not ignore the improvements he displayed from year one to year two in the OHL, or the improvements from start to finish this season.
As the season progressed, Phillips became more involved in transition, skating the puck with confidence from his zone to offence, rather then dumping it out of the zone or passing it off to a teammate to accomplish. He also gained more confidence in joining the rush as the season progressed.
In the defensive zone, he uses his skating abilities and long reach to the maximum. He’s very good at closing gaps and keeping players to the outside and would often get the key defensive matchups. One area we wanted to see improvement on was in using his big body and strength more physically, and he showed signs of improvement there as well as the season progressed.
On NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings, only 9 spots separated 5 OHL defenders on the list which includes Phillips and teammate Jack Thompson. However, on Central Scouting’s Final Rankings, he dropped 40 spots. This draft comes during a difficult time, so there is no telling how the draft will play out. One advantage they have is there were a lot of eyes on the Wolves as projected number two overall pick Quinton Byfield was drawing attention to Sudbury.
We asked play-by-play voice of the Wolves road games Mike Karafilidis (@MikeKarafilidis) to provide us some quick thoughts on Phillips on his improvement from star to finish and expectations for next year:
It was evident from the drop of the puck that Isaac possessed some high hockey IQ and displayed a high level of confidence from the start. There were no issues with his skating as he is a terrific skater. If there was one area, I would say that showed a big improvement it would be in his defending. As the season progresses, he played on the top pairing with Jack Thompson.
I expect Isaac’s offensive numbers to get better next season as he continues to gain confidence, play a more prominent role, and took take on a bigger leadership role next season.