Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

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.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62