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Tracking the Storm

Murphy Aims to Keep Following Skinner's Path

Friday, 06.24.2011 / 10:28 PM / 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.

Paul Branecky
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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 TBL 51 32 15 4 166 133 68
2 MTL 48 32 13 3 128 108 67
3 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 BOS 50 27 16 7 134 124 61
7 NYR 47 28 15 4 139 112 60
8 WSH 49 25 14 10 144 125 60
9 FLA 47 21 16 10 115 132 52
10 PHI 51 22 22 7 140 151 51
11 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
12 TOR 51 22 25 4 144 156 48
13 NJD 50 19 22 9 113 138 47
14 CBJ 48 21 24 3 120 151 45
15 CAR 49 17 26 6 105 129 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 44 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 49 10 19 -15 29
E. Lindholm 48 9 11 -12 20
R. Nash 49 7 13 -4 20
J. Tlusty 42 12 7 -14 19
J. Skinner 44 10 9 -9 19
N. Gerbe 45 5 13 -7 18
V. Rask 49 6 9 -13 15
A. Sekera 47 1 14 -7 15
J. McClement 49 1 9 -2 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .914 2.41
C. Ward 11 18 4 .913 2.42