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Murphy to sit opening night

The Hurricanes have announced the opening night roster for tomorrow’s home tilt against the Bolts.  There’s a bit of intrigue to it.  Ryan Murphy, the highly touted 2011 first round draft pick, survived the final round of cuts and was kept on the roster.  Strangely, he’ll be a healthy scratch for opening night.  The expectation was that he would play in the first nine games, then get sent back to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL as if nothing had happened.  If he plays fewer than 10 games, his newly signed contract will roll over until next season.

My money was on forward Riley Nash to survive the final cut and make his NHL debut this week.  That’s going to have to wait.  Frankly, I’m at a loss as to why the Hurricanes would keep Murphy around just so they could scratch him.

I also don’t understand the rationale behind keeping nine defensemen, but no extra forwards.  Ostensibly, this was an effort to get a good hard look at Murphy and fellow rookie Justin Faulk.  Faulk will play, while Jamie McBain, Derek Joslin and the 18-year old Murphy will be scratched.  Presumably, Faulk will be scratched on Saturday against the Caps.  I’m guessing that until they sort something out, there will be some rotation of Murphy, Faulk, McBain, Joslin and Jay Harrison rotating in and out of two defense spots.  This is too much headache if you ask me.  They should do the right thing and send Faulk to Charlotte.  They should either send Murphy back to Kitchener now or get him to play nine games right away. 

Sending Riley Nash back to Charlotte was ostensibly about Murphy, and then they turn around and stick Murphy in the press box.  I just don’t get it.  I know it’s much easier to recall a player with the Checkers just down the road in Charlotte, but I just don’t think it makes much sense to have nine defense on the roster and no extra forwards.  Unless, like I already said, the plan is to dress seven defense and only eleven forwards.  This isn’t the plan, so I can’t make heads or tails of it. 

As expected, Cam Ward will start in game one.  Paul Maurice has indicated that Brian Boucher will play “sooner rather than later”.  For the first time in a long while, the Canes have a real backup goalie with real NHL experience.  The last time this happened was when Arturs Irbe backed up Kevin Weekes in 2003-04.

While I really want to see Murphy play, I’d rather it not be at the expense of a roster spot for Riley Nash.  And I’d obviously rather see Murphy play than have him sit in the press box.  I do think that at some point in these first couple of weeks, the Canes will try the seven defensemen thing, which should get Murphy some decent ice time. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+boucher, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, justin+faulk, opening+night, riley+nash, ryan+murphy

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I think, in the short term, Murphy will learn more in the pressbox of an NHL team, practicing with them and playing every 2nd or 3rd game, than further dominating in the OHL.

This move seems unconventional, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Posted by jonquixote on 10/06/11 at 09:24 PM ET

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About Red and Black Hockey

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. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.