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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 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NJD 57 29 21 7 125 124 65
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
9 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 BUF 57 23 28 6 135 156 52
15 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 54 14 19 2 33
J. Staal 56 12 21 8 33
J. Skinner 56 19 13 -1 32
K. Versteeg 55 11 21 1 32
E. Staal 56 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 56 8 17 -9 25
A. Nestrasil 49 9 12 1 21
J. Nordstrom 45 5 11 2 16
R. Hainsey 56 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 11 7 .909 2.35
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74