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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Murphy, Faulk Shine in Traverse City

Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 12:59 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Murphy, Faulk Shine in Traverse City
While the Carolina Hurricanes finished last in this year’s NHL Prospects Tournament, wins and losses are the farthest stats from the minds of management – especially when Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk provided much to be pleased with.

Michael Smith
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This pre-camp tournament gives the front office a chance to assess the performance of their prospects in a game-setting.

“It allows all of our prospects to compete in real games, whereas some of them might not be able to get themselves into pre-season games at the NHL level,” Jason Karmanos, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, said. “It’s a real opportunity to evaluate them against their peers.

“The most positive thing about this week is that we had two elite prospects participating – that’s exciting.”

Those would, of course, be Murphy and Faulk, two sub-20-year-old defensemen in the Canes system who very well may make a push to make the team in training camp.

“Both players showed that they aren’t too far from the NHL and that they have a chance, if they continue to improve over camp, to make our hockey team,” Karmanos said. “They are very young prospects, but they both have exceptional offensive ability.”

The main upsides to the 18-year-old Murphy’s game are his speed and puck-handling abilities.

“He is a very exciting, high-tempo player,” Karmanos said. “He does everything fast. Quick feet. Quick hands. Very creative with the puck. He has a talent level so far above most players on the ice.”

That talent level is what led the Canes to select Murphy 12th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Last season with the Kitchner Rangers – the same junior team with which Jeff Skinner played – Murphy ranked second among all OHL defenseman in scoring with 79 points (26g, 53a) in 63 games.

At 5-foot-11, 176 pounds, he certainly needs to get stronger, but that won’t stop him from being competitive in training camp.

“He’s not the biggest player, but he has that quickness, and in today’s game that is very important,” Karmanos said. “He continued to improve over the course of the tournament, just like Jeff Skinner did last year.”

Just a year older than Murphy, Justin Faulk is a more physically built offensive-defenseman who already has some professional experience.

“Strength is not an issue with him at all, and he seems to have such a solid base to his frame,” Karmanos said. “He doesn’t get knocked around, and he is very strong in the corners and 1-on-1 battles.

“That’s a skill you don’t commonly see developed a young age, but he’s got it. And that, more than anything, is what gets him to the point where he’s not far from the NHL.”

After winning the NCAA Championship with Minnesota-Duluth last season, Faulk signed an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes. He reported to Charlotte, where he and the Checkers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Faulk skated in 13 of the Checkers’ 16 playoff games, as he gained valuable professional experience that gives him an edge coming into this season.

“He didn’t have a small part in the team making the Final; he was very much a key contributor,” Karmanos said. “Playing in Charlotte makes him feel more comfortable on the ice at this level and in getting to know the coaches and staff that he’s going to work with moving forward.”

Both Faulk and Murphy will be on Team Black (Group C) to begin training camp, and they comprise a pair that Caniacs should definitely keep an eye on.

“These are two young players that we think have very bright futures for the Hurricanes,” Karmanos said.

Aside from Murphy and Faulk, Karmanos singled out two other players who had strong weeks.

Austin Levi, a 19-year-old, U.S.-born defenseman, also impressed Karmanos, notable for a kid who didn’t start playing hockey until he reached double-digit age.

“We feel he has improved quite a bit from one year to the next,” Karmanos said. “Obviously he has a lot of natural ability. He’s a big, strong kid who competes hard and looks like he’s a solid prospect to one day be an NHL defenseman.”

Levi played in 66 games for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL last season, recording 25 points (6g, 19a) and a plus-16. He can be found on Team Black (Group C) in training camp.

Victor Rask, a Swedish-born center drafted in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, also performed well, according to Karmanos.

“He’s getting his first taste of hockey in North America, something that most European players have to experience before they get totally comfortable” Karmanos said. “He played well and showed that he’s a smart player who plays a solid two-way game.”

Karmanos said that he would prefer Rask stayed in North America this year – perhaps playing in Calgary with the junior club that has his rights – but added that it’s most important that he simply gets a lot of playing time no matter where he ends up.

The Canes will most likely return to Traverse City next year, as the tournament is a preferred choice within the front office. Karmanos said that he likes the tournament because eight teams participate, which gives the prospects exposure to a lot of players in different organizations.

“The intensity level of the games you can’t replicate with internal scrimmages. And the pace of those games is unlike anything these kids have ever seen before,” he said. “To be able to push them to that degree in games against kids their age is a great entry point for them coming into the big camp where it’s a whole other level in practicing and playing with men.”

Training camp officially kicks off tomorrow with player physicals. Fans' first chance to catch players in action will be Sunday, Sept. 18 in the veteran-packed Red-White game as a part of the Caniac Carnival.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 47 27 12 8 143 120 62
6 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
7 WSH 47 24 14 9 140 124 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45