Under rather unique circumstances, Ryan Murphy got a taste of the NHL in the shortened 2012-13 season.
This year, he wants more, and he’s out to prove it beginning with this week’s Prospects Development Camp.
“This week is good because it gets you back on the ice and gets you almost back to game speed,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself, and it’s a great week.”
Drafted 12th overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, this is Murphy’s second such development camp, a bit of an oddity for a player who has four NHL games under his belt.
But it’s also not the same camp as it was two summers ago.
“The first camp I went to was a bit more high-tempo,” he said. “There was a bit more off-ice than on-ice.”
Along with the rest of the camp attendees, Murphy has a stall in the Hurricanes dressing room. Unlike most others, this is somewhat of a familiar spot for him.
“I’ve been in this room a few times now, and it never gets old,” he said. “It’s still pretty surreal.”
Murphy was recalled by the Canes midseason on an emergency basis, as the then-19-year-old unexpectedly skated in four games for Carolina in late February. In his NHL debut, he logged 23:51 of ice time, and in his second game, 25:27.
Should he make the team this year, perhaps as a seventh or eighth defenseman, Murphy probably won’t see that same workload as he learns the league at his own pace.
“It’s not putting too much pressure on me to play big minutes. It’s easing me into it,” he said. “I think if I’m a seven or eight D, I’d obviously want to move up in the lineup. I’d do my best to prove myself and get more minutes.”
In his four-year OHL career, Murphy was nearly a point-per-game producer with 53 goals and 167 assists (220 points) in 228 regular-season games. Murphy, 20, joined the Charlotte Checkers at the conclusion of the season, skating in three regular-season games and posting two assists.
“I’m just coming out of junior now, so there are a lot of aspects of my game that I want to improve,” he said. “Mainly, I want to get bigger and stronger in the defensive zone. Positionally, I need to focus on the little things on the ice.”
Murphy said his brief stints in the NHL and AHL were invaluable learning experiences, as they highlighted the aspects of his game that need fine-tuning.
“There are little things I can get away with in junior, like making a mistake and using my skating to make up for it,” he said. “If you make a mistake at a higher level, there’s no way you’re going to make up for that mistake. Just little things that you have to pay attention to each shift.”
The Aurora, Ont., native also got a glimpse of playoff hockey, as he played in five first-round games with the Checkers in late April and early May.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It’s great hockey with a great pace, and I learned a lot.”
Following the Checkers’ exit from the Calder Cup Playoffs, Murphy said he took a week off to let his body rest before getting back into the weight room and hitting the ice three times a week to keep his skating and hands sharp.
His training has also beefed up his 5-foot-11 frame. When he was drafted two summers ago, Murphy weighed in at 165 pounds. Today, he’s up to 185 pounds and ready to call Raleigh his home.
“I’m going to play my game, work hard and do everything I can to make the big club,” Murphy said. “Patience is key. I’ve been patient to make the squad, and hopefully next year is my year.”
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