The Carolina Hurricanes kicked off their 2022 Prospect Development Camp Monday, as a small group of NHL hopefuls slid on the Carolina sweater for some on-ice resistance testing to get an eventful week started.
Among the group of prospects were standouts like 2021 second-round pick Scott Morrow and 2022 fourth-round pick Simon Forsmark, who were joined by a stable of Canes’ draft picks from the past three to four years.
But not every prospect going through the events in Raleigh this week has the same story, and for one prospect in particular the invitation to development camp meant a little bit more.
Devin Phillips, a non-drafted camp invitee who is headed to play college hockey at Holy Cross, is a Raleigh native and graduate of the Junior Canes program. A lifelong Hurricanes fan, Phillips is getting a really unique honor this week as he gets to pull on a familiar jersey in a very different setting.
“It meant the world to me,” Phillips said. “I’ve been cheering for this team since I was born. It’s definitely an honor…I was kind of numb when I got that phone call to get this opportunity to come out here and do this. I’ll make the best of it.”
Phillips, who attended Cardinal Gibbons High School across the street from PNC Arena, has spent the last three years playing for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he has started to flourish into a pretty good player.
He had a huge breakout year this past season, recording 91 points in just 45 games to finish fourth in the AJHL in points and third and assists.
Now he’s getting the opportunity to skate with some high-end Carolina Hurricanes’ prospects, and it’s something that he’s not taking for granted.
“I just want to be the best I can and try to be better each day,” Phillips said. “When I got the call I was really nervous, but getting here and meeting some of the guys and seeing how down to earth they are, it’s just a lot of fun. I want to just learn from them. Obviously you’ve got a lot of talent here. I just want to learn from them and be the best I can.”
And while Phillips’ inclusion in this week’s Prospect Development Camp means a lot to him personally, it also means a lot to the hockey community in Raleigh as a whole.
A former Junior Canes player is suiting up and taking the ice as a prospect for an NHL team’s camp, and that’s something that can mean so much to the program and those kids playing in it right now.
“It’s great,” said Hurricanes Director of Defensive Development Peter Harrold. “If we can have home-grown talent, that’s the biggest thing. We want to grow the game around the big team. We want to grow the game of hockey at large. It’s great to have him out there. Hopefully some of the younger players saw it and keep working. We’re just trying to grow the game at the grassroots. It’s good for the pro team. That’s more fans, more engagement and that’s what we’re looking for.”
And for Phillips, knowing what this opportunity can mean for those in the Junior Canes program to look up to is something he’s honored by.
“Obviously growing up in North Carolina it’s great to see those guys coming up,” Phillips said. “Anything is possible when you work hard and stick to it. It’s awesome.”
It’s a big week for Phillips, who has the joy of getting to participate in the Canes’ first developmental camp since 2019 at home, in front of his family and friends.
As he heads to Holy Cross next year to continue his hockey career, he has a really unique, cool experience to draw from this summer.
“It’s obviously hard being out here, but it’s great to have my family here watching me and supporting me,” Phillips said. “Just growing up here, it’s been awesome. It’s just a dream come true to get this opportunity.”