Minnesota Wild Prospect Zack Phillips a Healthy Scratch

Bruce Bennett

Zach Phillips was a healthy scratch in Houston last night. Does it mean he is terrible? Or does it just mean he is a prospect that needs development?

There just might be a few chinks in the armor.

In recent years, we have all been so accustomed to rapid development. Jonas Brodin was playing in the Swedish Men's National team one year after being drafted. Mikael Granlund was a star in Finland. And we have many more examples. Sometimes, just sometimes, it takes a little more time and patient.

The Wild's 28th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Zack Phillips, was a healthy scratch with the Aeros.

Does it mean anything serious? Probably not.

But does it raise an interesting idea? It does.

It is no mystery that Phillips has not exactly produced at the rate that most of us expected. Graduating from the Saint John Sea Dogs, Phillips was a star player for the team, named the team's Most Valuable Player, a team that won that league's President's Cup and was one game from the Memorial Cup.

This team was deep and full of fire power. Phillips was the MVP of that group. An amazing feat.

Zack Phillips - 2011 NHL Draft (via YanthaCanada)

So when one of your top offensive prospects doesn't produce offense, it raises alarms, but it is obvious that he has the tools. He has great vision, good hands, a solid two-way game. His skating is still the obvious weakness that needs work.

But really, what is the point of this article? To remind all of us that not every prospect can be a fast riser like Mikael Granlund or Jonas Brodin.

The Wild are just damn lucky (and good) to get players like these. They were even luckier to get Jared Spurgeon to jump into an NHL regular role. Also, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, and Johan Larsson all seem to be on the fast track to becoming NHL regulars.

But sometimes we just need to wait a little while longer.

I mean, look at how Nick Leddy turned out! Many were unconvinced about him because of his rawness as a prospect, but after trading him for ... Cam Barker ... look at how dumb we look. What an awful trade, but I digress.

Obviously, the sooner the better, but after watching the Colton Gillies and Nick Leddy debacles (bad decisions for two different reasons), sometimes we just need to let players marinate just a little while longer before giving up or throwing them into the fire.

I apologize for raining on anyone's parade, but with almost all of our top prospects in the professional leagues, I feel that our current high point will soon develop into a slight dip.

So if a top prospect of ours doesn't jump into the NHL immediately, don't fret. Let them play in a level where they can develop. All we can do is find the right learning environment, whether that be the ,AHL, ECHL, or High School, and just let them fine tune their game.

In the case of Zack Phillips, he is an extremely talented forward that needs time in the lower leagues to polish off his game. Work is needed, but with the Wild not desperate for players, they can afford to let Phillips develop on his own pace. Great.

Zach Phillips Statistics


GP G A P +/- PIM
Houston Aeros (AHL) 37 2 11 13 -11 4

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