Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 09/16/11 at 08:20 PM ET
On Friday evening, the Hurricanes announced that they have come to terms with 2011 first round draft selection Ryan Murphy. The 18-year old defenseman, who was selected with the 12th overall pick this July, has become the second straight Kitchener Rangers player signed by the Hurricanes out of the Traverse City prospects tournament. Like Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner before him, he has signed a standard Entry Level two-way contract, but he isn’t old enough to play in the American League. He can be returned to Kitchener or he can play with the big team.
The particulars of the contract are pretty standard. Three years. $832,500 at the NHL level or $70k at the AHL level in all three seasons. He also gets a $277,500 signing bonus. Again, the American Hockey League requires North American players to be at least 20 (or turning 20) years old, but the NHL allows 18-year olds to play.
Murphy has a ton of offensive upside, and he finished last season with 79 (26/53) points in 63 regular season games with Kitchener. He also added 11 (2/9) in seven post-season games. Everyone who’s watched him play agrees that he’s a very exciting and very special player. He’s piled up a ton of awards along the way. He made the OHL first team all-rookie team in 2009-10. He was an OHL first-team all-star in 2010-11. He was named the best defenseman at the 2011 IIHF World U-18 Tournament. And now he’s put himself in a position to earn a roster spot on the big team. That’s a tremendous accomplishment for any 18-year old, but especially because he’s a defenseman.
Murphy is a highly skilled offensive player. He has a mean slap shot, he’s a very smooth skater. He’s fast. He loves to join the rush, he loves to pinch. This might work at the OHL level, but the concern is that he’ll need to focus more on his defensive game before he makes the jump to the NHL. Or convert to winger.
Given that he has some developing to do, and given that this means that he’ll almost certainly be returned to Kitchener, I’m not sure why they felt the need to sign him right now. Even last summer with Jeff Skinner, they waited until he proved himself a little more at training camp. Maybe the team has a plan to deal one of the defensemen under contract and slot Murphy into the lineup on the big team. As good as he looked in Traverse City (I only watched the one game that was on NHLN), this doesn’t seem very realistic.
Then again, the experts compare this kid to Mike Green. If he’s going to be like Mike Green, then I’d say to go ahead and get him suited up.
Apparently, the first year of the contract is deferred if Murphy is returned to Kitchener. It doesn’t necessarily start in 2011-12. It starts with his first NHL season.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.