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Draft Profile: Ryan Murphy

Friday, 06.17.2011 / 9:30 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Draft Profile: Ryan Murphy
On each weekday between now and the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on June 24, we'll be profiling one of 11 players who could be chosen with the 12th overall pick by Carolina. Today's subject is Ontario Hockey League defenseman Ryan Murphy. Previously: Sven Bartschi | Nathan Beaulieu | Jonas Brodin | Sean Couturier | Oscar Klefbom Also see: Hurricanes Draft History.

Paul Branecky
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Being one-dimensional can work, as long as that dimension is very, very good.

That seems to be the case with Ontario Hockey League defenseman Ryan Murphy. A Kitchener Rangers teammate of Jeff Skinner’s two seasons ago, Murphy, who led all league defensemen with 79 points (26g, 53a) in 63 regular-season games last season, has elite offensive skills that should translate to the NHL.

“His offensive ability is pretty special,” said Jason Karmanos, the Hurricanes’ vice president and assistant general manager. “He skates very well, has an extremely hard shot and projects as a power-play quarterback.”

In addition to his prowess with the man advantage, scouts also love Murphy’s skating and ability to beat opposing defenders in one-on-one situations with his shiftiness and quick hands. As far as scoring goes, he seems like a sure thing.

“He has had the type of production you rarely see among draft-eligible defensemen,” said Karmanos.

If Murphy is available to Carolina at No. 12 (most rankings have him higher), that will be due to other areas of his game. As of now, his defensive abilities are thought of as average at best, while his size (5-foot-11, 176 pounds), also isn’t cause for excitement.

While it’s clear that teams will draft him in the top 15 based on his scoring potential, that’s not to say he couldn’t overcome the knocks against him over time.

“He has to play a different kind of defensive game because of his size,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting. “It’s tougher for him to go head-to-head with a 6-foot-2, 210-pound winger. He’s not going to muscle him out of there, so he’s got to take a different approach.

“He has to be an angle-and-contain, body-position guy, and his skating allows him to recover and defend in situations where he might get trapped up ice.”

While he improved during the season and was able to learn and implement that style in junior hockey and international play, there are still uncertainties as to whether he projects as a reliable five-on-five player at the NHL level. While the two are different players – Murphy is more apt to lead the rush himself – that’s part of what made Cam Fowler, thought of as a near-consensus top five pick on draft day one year ago, fall all the way to 12.

That Fowler already has a full NHL season under his belt and looks like a potential steal could help Murphy’s cause, as will his strong finish to the season. Prior to an impressive showing for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship (he led his team with 13 points in seven games and was named the tournament’s Top Defenseman), Murphy paced Kitchener in playoff scoring with 11 points in 10 games – one more than potential No. 1 overall pick Gabriel Landeskog.

That has scouts hoping that he can become a more complete player rather than one who merely uses his strengths – no matter how prominent – to balance out his weaknesses.

“Every defenseman in the league has to learn how to play more of a containment-type game,” said Karmanos. “He’s figured that out at the junior level and the international level with his peers, so it would seem that in time he would be able to figure that out with the bigger, stronger players in the NHL.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81