The Chicago Blackhawks have sent Isaak Phillips to the Rockford IceHogs
Isaak Phillips has been assigned to the IceHogs. The 22-year-old will spend the 2023-2024 season in the AHL.
Phillips is expected to play big minutes in Rockford and continue his strong development.
31-year-old defenseman Nikita Zaitsev was given a roster spot over Phillips which some fans are not happy about.
Zaitsev plays awful last year and in training camp this year. Locks in a roster spot.
Phillips earns a spot with his play and gets sent down.
It baffling to me, reward a guy for awful play?!?!?
— Jenn B. (@jenzy75) October 9, 2023
I’d much rather have Phillips than Zaitzev….However, this means Korchinski is starting the season with the Blackhawks. Not a surprise. I think he’s ready. pic.twitter.com/Db91rAgbWe
— Greg Boysen (@GregBoysen) October 9, 2023
Zaitsev was acquired from Ottawa, a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2026 fourth-rounder from Ottawa in exchange for future considerations.
The defenseman played in 28 games for the Senators in 2023 his fourth season with the team, collecting five assists. He also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2016 to ’19.
Back in February Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson talked about the mentality behind the Zaitsev deal.
“We are getting an NHL-caliber defenseman and acquiring very valuable draft capital in this upcoming draft and beyond,” Davidson said in a statement. “Nikita gives us added depth on the right side and we anticipate him joining us soon.”
The Blackhawks roster is currently loaded with young talent. Davidson likely wants to not have an entire lineup full of rookies. A player like Zaitsev provides a veteran presence and regardless of his play last season, is a player the young defensemen can learn from.
Phillips could also be called up a few times this season, depending on who gets injured or if a defenseman plays really poorly.
If his development stays on track, Phillips could be a staple for the Blackhawks blue line for years to come.
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