Must be 'mom's cooking': Wings draft pick Ethan Phillips reunites with old housemate Filip Zadina

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Vancouver, British Columbia — Ethan Phillips, the Red Wings’ fourth-round draft pick Saturday, already has a connection to the organization.

And it’s a good one to have.

Red Wings draft pick Ethan Phillips.

Phillips is a pal of last year’s first-round pick, Filip Zadina.

Phillips’ family is a billet (host) family in Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and they’ve housed Zadina and Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils), who happened to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2017.

“Maybe it’s mom’s cooking,” said Phillips, as to the streak of draft picks coming out of the household.

More: Red Wings take defenseman, center with first two picks of second round

Phillips became the latest in that streak Saturday, chosen by the Red Wings on the second and final day of the NHL Entry Draft.

“It was really cool the last two drafts to go with Zadina and Hischier,” Phillips said. “I wasn’t in the same position as them, but now to be in their shoes (and getting drafted), it’s pretty cool. You never know when you’re going to get picked. When the pick comes across, you cross your fingers hoping it’s you. When it comes, it’s like a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

“It’s a good feeling.”

Phillips has a good relationship with Zadina, one of the more exciting players in the Red Wings’ organization.

“I got to know him pretty well,” Phillips said. “I’m sure he’s pretty happy for me right now. I’m excited to see him (next week at development camp) and talk to him.”

Phillips is a project, as any player drafted that late would be.

More: Get to know all 11 of the Red Wings' picks from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

Headed to Boston University in the fall — with another Red Wings’ draftee, second-rounder Sam Mastrosimone — Phillips has to gain considerable strength to get a professional look.

Phillips is only 5-foot-9, 145-pounds, although he does possess fine puck-handling skills and has offensive sills.

Philllips is eager to talk with the Red Wings’ nutrition staff, and strength and conditioning, in an effort to get stronger.

“I need a big summer,” Phillips said. “When I get up there, I want to talk with those guys.”

Free-agency window

The NHL unrestricted free-agency interview window opens at 12 a.m. Sunday, as teams can contact upcoming unrestricted free agents.

Teams can officially begin talking to and interviewing UFAs, though deals can’t be officially signed until July 1.

General manager Steve Yzerman will contact players and their agents, but isn’t sure how aggressive the team will be in free agency.

“I’m going to make some calls,” Yzerman said. “There are players we’re interested in. You get a feel (during this period) for, one, if they have any interest in coming in Detroit, and then, with the (contract) parameters, what they’re looking for, and basically get a feel for that.”

The NHL announced after the draft the salary cap will be set for $81.5 million next season — though that’ll have little impact on this particularly younger Red Wings roster.

“It doesn’t really affect us,” Yzerman said. “I would say, probably three months ago, I was anticipating 83ish ($83 million), understanding that things do change.

“It’s not really going to affect the Detroit Red Wings this year.”

Kronwall update

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, an unrestricted free agent deciding whether to return for another season or retire, will take more time to decide his future.

“We talked and he’s going to take the summer,” Yzerman said. “I’m going to plan (ahead) and we’re going to go about our business. Nothing really changes as far as if Nick wants to come back and play, he’ll have a spot on the team.”

Yzerman doesn’t anticipate getting Kronwall’s final decision “until the end of the summer”.

More: White Lake’s Ronnie Attard headlines several players with local ties taken on Day 2 of NHL Draft

Ice chips

The Red Wings’ draft picks from these last two days, along with some recent picks like Zadina, will take part in the organization’s development camp beginning Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena.

… The NHL regular season schedule will be released Tuesday. The home opener has been announced already, Sunday Oct. 6, against Dallas.

Twitter: @tkulfan