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Tracking the Storm

Draft Profile: Ryan Murphy

Friday, 06.17.2011 / 9:30 AM / 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 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61