Excellent news for Hurricanes fans as Ryan Murphy, one of Carolina’s top defensive prospects, returned to the Kitchener Rangers lineup last night after missing ten games with a concussion. On 04-Nov-2011, Niagara IceDogs’ forward Tom Kuhnhackl delivered a body-crushing check, his elbow connecting with Murphy’s jaw, as Murphy was playing the puck behind the Kitchener goal. Kuhnhackl received a 20-game suspension for the hit as the OHL sent a strong message on the crackdown on headshots.
Video of the vicious hit can be seen here.
Last night’s game against the Brampton Battalion, just Murphy’s tenth game of the season, saw the Rangers pull out the 2-1 shootout win. While Murphy was held off the score sheet, he jumped right back into his role as quarterback of the team’s power play, something that Canes fans can’t wait to see him do here in Carolina.
The 18-year old is arguably one of the best offensive blueliners in the OHL. In his ten games this season Murphy has recorded six assists. Last season he ranked second among all OHL defencemen with 79 points in 63 games. His 26 goals led all OHL defencemen while his 53 assists ranked second. In his three years in the OHL with Kitchener, Murphy has averaged almost a point per game with 32 goals and 92 assists for 124 points in 135 games.
Drafted by the Hurricanes 12th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy impressed everyone at his first NHL training camp in September, making Carolina’s opening night roster. The blueliner saw action in four preseason games, recording one assist, but was a healthy scratch in the first four games of the regular season before being assigned back to the Kitchener Rangers.
General Manager Jim Rutherford had good things to say about his most recent first round pick when the Hurricanes signed Murphy to a three-year entry level contract at the beginning of training camp. “Ryan is a gifted offensive defenceman,” Rutherford said. “He skates extremely well and is dynamic with the puck. He put up very impressive numbers as a 17-year old in the OHL, and he’s put himself in a position to push for a spot on the NHL level.”
And push he did, as he came so close to becoming the second Kitchener Ranger in as many years to make the NHL as an 18-year old. Of course Caniacs know the first one rather well as former Ranger standout Jeff Skinner, the NHL’s Calder winner from last year, continues to impress in his sophomore endeavor with the Hurricanes.
The high praise for Murphy continued after camp as Rutherford said, “We are very pleased with Ryan’s training camp. The fact that he went beyond the start of the season with us as an 18-year old defenceman is really exceptional and tells what we think of him. He has a great future with us.”
No doubt Canes fans are excited for Murphy’s future with the big club. The thought of having an offensive threat on the blueline and especially a quarterback on the powerplay makes the Caniacs giddy. Just do us a favour, Murph, and keep your head up!
Keep an eye on Cardiac Cane throughout the season as we’ll continue to monitor Murphy’s development as well as that of other top prospects for the Hurricanes.