The 26-year-old, centerman joins the club from Trois-Rivieres Lions of the ECHL, where last season he posted 23 points (5G, 18A) in 62 appearances and racked up 102 penalty minutes.
Born in Laval, Quebec, Phelan has played multiple seasons in both the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL, as well as over 300 games in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
The 6-foot-tall, forward was also invited to an NHL Training Camp in 2019, as he trialled with Winnipeg Jets and with their AHL affiliate, Manitoba Moose, but in the season prior, he had been playing for the Dallas Stars organisation, as he iced with their AHL partners, Texas Stars.
James, who weighs in at 185lbs, started out playing for Laval Patriotes U15 side in the 2011-2012 season, where he scored 39 points from 34 games, before going on to win a QMAAA Championship with Laval-Montreal Rousseau Royal the following year, at age 15.
The Canadian would score 20 points in 50 games before adding three more in seven Telus Cup contests to earn Laval-Montreal a bronze medal and himself a spot on Team Quebec White in the QMJHL Gold Cup U16, where he would win another trophy after scoring and assisting once in five games.
The following summer, now aged 16, Phelan would be selected 21st overall by Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2013 QMJHL Entry Draft and begin a five-year stint in one of Canada’s three major junior leagues.
In his debut season, James scored 10 points in 54 matches, whilst totalling 61 penalty minutes as his feisty nature began to show and he would also be selected to represent Canada as part of the Quebec Under 17’s team in the 2014 World Hockey Challenge.
Two more seasons with Shawinigan followed, as he recorded 33 points before being traded during the 2015-2016 campaign to fellow QMJHL outfit, Victoriaville Tigres and he would end the year with a further 15 points from 39 fixtures.
In his first full season with Victoriaville, Phelan was named as an alternate captain and had his most productive year so far with 60 points (26G, 34A) in 72 games, but also 89 penalty minutes.
Then in the 2017-2018 campaign, he had 39 points through 37 games with Victoriaville before being traded to Val-d’Or Foreurs and then onto Moncton Wildcats, where he added 35 more points (18G, 17A) in the remaining 27 regular season matches.
Phelan then produced big in the playoffs, scoring nine goals and assisting on four more across 12 games, giving him a season total of 42 goals, 45 assists and 94 penalty minutes, his career best to date.
The following year he would turn professional as he turned down the chance to play college hockey, instead signing a one-year contract with the AHL’s Texas Stars and he would score three times and assist on three more goals across 45 appearances before joining ECHL side, Idaho Steelheads on loan for their playoff run, adding three points in six post-season ties.
Ahead of the 2019-2020 season, Phelan was invited to join the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose’s training camps but eventually signed with the Jacksonville IceMen of the ECHL and after 12 games, he was then traded to Adirondack Thunder.
James featured 19 times for the New York based club and also had a two-match loan spell with his hometown team, Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of Montreal Canadiens but that would also be the first season he did not ice in a playoff match since 2011.
The COVID-19 pandemic killed many opportunities in the 2020-2021 season, including Phelan’s plans to return to Adirondack, however he would decide to head to college, signing with the University of New Brunswick.
Despite no hockey being played in his first year, the Reds would go on to win the USports (AUS) Championship the following season, with James contributing 16 points (9G, 7A) in 26 games, whilst studying for his degree.
Phelan then returned to pro hockey last season as he joined former Star, Anthony Beauregard at Trois-Rivieres Lions and finished eighth in scoring on the team.
LEFEBVRE ON PHELAN
After adding Phelan to his roster, Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre, said: “James is a gritty two-way center, who has a lot of bite to his game.
“He brings a great offensive skillset with him, he is very good on face-offs and we want to play a puck possession game, so him winning face-offs will be key for us.
“When I did my research on him, everything was top-notch about him and I am glad he has chosen Dundee.
“He brings a little bit of everything to the table and I am looking forward to working with him.”
LeFebvre continued: “When you look at his numbers in juniors, you can see the offensive skillset he has and the fact he made the AHL right out of juniors after being undrafted, so he definitely has a strong skillset and physicality to his game, which we are looking forward to him bringing to Dundee.
“As I have said before, we want to be a tough team to play against and you can see that with the guys we have signed earlier this summer and James definitely adds to that.”
The Canadian coach also shared of what he hopes to see from the Quebec-native this season, adding: “For James, I think he wants to get back to his scoring ways that he had in junior.
“Obviously, he has been playing more of a defensive or checking role in the last few seasons, especially in pro and at university level, so we think he has an offensive skillset that he can bring to the table and we want to unleash that this year.”
Listen to the full interview below!
PHELAN ON THE SWITCH TO SCOTLAND
Once the deal was finalised, a delighted James said: “I am really delighted, it has been a long summer of waiting to know where I would be playing next but me and my fiancé are really happy to be moving to Europe, and especially Dundee.
“Marc was really honest in his conversations with me and the role he saw me playing, being a real 200-foot and in your face kind of guy, who can contribute on both sides of the puck.
“The other bigger part is just how he sold me on the city and how great of a place Dundee, I just felt like Dundee was the right place for me and I am really excited to get things going.”
Hear all James had to say about joining Dundee when he caught up with Stars TV’s Stephen Swann!
In his 12-year-career so far, James has featured in 583 matches, recorded 134 goals, 167 assists and collected 624 penalty minutes, while also playing in 60 playoff games, where he tallied 26 points (13G, 13A) and 52 penalty minutes.
James is our 14th signing of the summer and joins Drydn Dow, Lucas Brine, Kris Inglis, Jonathan McBean, Craig Moore, Craig Garrigan, Johnny Walker, Josh Brittain, Chris McKay, Ryan Valentini, Brendan Harms, Carter Johnson and Tommy Parrottino on the roster for next season.
Phelan has shared a dressing room with a few former Stars throughout his career, such as; Elgin Pearce, Chris Lijdsman and just last season in Trois-Rivieres; Anthony Beauregard and Francis Marotte.
Phelan will wear #14 for the Stars and you can sponsor his equipment for this season right now, click HERE.
To see James’ career stats on Elite Prospects click HERE.
Banner Image: Texas Stars.
Featured Image: Jason Scourse/Belleville Senators.