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Murphy Aims to Keep Following Skinner's Path

Friday, 06.24.2011 / 10:28 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Murphy Aims to Keep Following Skinner\'s Path

In looking for the next Jeff Skinner, the Hurricanes went to the same place they discovered the first one.

Carolina chose defenseman Ryan Murphy with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, one year after it chose his Kitchener Rangers teammate, Skinner, five spots earlier. Skinner’s dream All-Star and Rookie of the Year season remains an extremely tough follow, but Murphy feels he’s up to the task.

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“I’m a confident kid,” he said. “I’ve seen Jeff Skinner do it and I think, ‘Why can’t I do it as well?’”

Just minutes after his name was called, Murphy told the media that he had already received a message of congratulations from the reigning Calder Trophy winner who was in his shoes not long ago.

“It will be weird to play with him again,” said Murphy.

Murphy, the most talented offensive blueliner at the top of the draft, led the Ontario Hockey League in scoring by defensemen with 79 points (26g, 53a) last season. The 18-year-old also led Team Canada in scoring at the World Under-18 Championship with 13 points in seven games, taking home the tournament’s Top Defenseman award.

A great skater who likes to lead the rush and use his big shot, Murphy projects to be a power-play fixture at the next level.

“He’s just a special player,” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. “He does a lot of things in junior that other players can’t do.”

Rutherford said that he expected some surprises in the top half of the draft’s first round, later confirming that he was not disappointed in that regard. Those surprises led to Murphy, ranked as the No. 9 North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Service, falling to the Canes.

“We didn’t always expect it, but we’re very happy to get him,” said Rutherford.

Murphy also admitted to being somewhat surprised at his destination while being unsure of where he would go in the draft.

“I knew I was going to get drafted, and that is a pretty good success,” he said. “The number doesn’t matter.”

Before Murphy can emulate his former-teammate-turned-teammate-again, there are some areas he’ll need to address. First, he’ll need to add muscle to what the NHL lists as a 5-foot-10, 166-pound frame. That in turn will allow him to be a more well-rounded player that can contribute at even-strength play as well as the man advantage – an area in which even the most conservative pundits admit he has the skills to thrive.

The Hurricanes believe he can do those things, thanks in large part to conversations with Kitchener coach Steve Spott.

“Guys that play that style of game have to give something on the defensive side, but based on what we’ve seen and heard and the way he thinks the game, I have confidence that he can develop,” said Rutherford

In doing so, the Hurricanes won’t want him to lose sight of the reason they drafted him in the first place – his elite offensive skills.

“I’ve been fortunate that my coaches up until now haven’t tried to change my game – they’ve added to it,” said Murphy. “Hopefully the coaches in Carolina do the same.”

It isn’t clear how long it will take for Murphy to refine his game and get to the NHL, where he'll attempt to achieve the same heights as Skinner. At least on his draft night, he was proceeding as though he thought it would be sooner rather than later.

“I’m going to work hard every day to get better and stronger,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be in the lineup next year.”


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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
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81