Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft: 5 Sleeper Picks

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C Matthew Phillips – Victoria Royals, WHL

We really got into the short player section here. Next up is center Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals, who is ranked 81st by NHL CSS but much lower by many others, despite scoring 37 goals and 76 points in 72 games in his WHL rookie season. How is that possible? Well, there is a little catch — literally.

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Matthew Phillips measures just 5-foot-7. He might be a limbo champ, but that won’t help him in the National Hockey League.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson is only one inch taller than Phillips. He went undrafted and was signed by the Lightning as a free agent. Johnson is also seven years older than Phillips, and by now, teams have realized that speed and skill can be more important than size. But how short can a center really be?

I would love to give you a little scouting report from TheDraftAnalyst.com, as I did for the previous players, but Phillips actually did not make their final mock draft. A look at their prospect rankings shows: Phillips is No. 243 — that’s how much size matters to some.

So, from Future Considerations, who have Phillips ranked 135th:

"Phillips is a tiny, but intelligent playmaker with elite offensive capability. He processes the speed of the game very well and operates well when in motion. He is a quick, shifty skater who brings agility, acceleration and the power to escape a check in a blink. (…) His speed combines exceptionally well with his offensive hockey sense, and he’s got a real knack for creating opportunities with his skilled playmaking ability for himself and his linemates. He makes those who share the ice with him better players."

Matthew Phillips could easily be the next Tyler Johnson, no matter if he goes off the board in the third round or not at all.

Next: W Mathias From