Irresponsible Rumormongering

The case to trade for Ryan Murphy

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

As the season progresses, trends outside of New York start to get noticed that may present opportunities for the Rangers to improve their team. One such opportunity is with Ryan Murphy of the Carolina Hurricanes. The former 12th overall pick has been yo-yo’d a lot by the Canes, and it appears they could pursue a trade. They have blue line depth in the system, and in what may be a purge at the deadline, a change of scenery for Murphy can help address their forward depth.

The thought of a potential Murphy trade came from a few thoughts going through my head over the past few days, both subjective and objective.

Point 1: Jealousy

I’ll admit it, I am jealous of the New York Islanders. It pains me that they were able to acquire a top defenseman in Nick Leddy for –no disrespect to Ville Pokka, a good prospect– for scraps. The story behind Leddy is simple, former first round pick who was traded to Chicago in another lopsided trade, but was behind the depth chart with guys like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Nick Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. His talent of course was undeniable and his play led many to believe that he was severely under utilized in Chicago. The Isles swooped in with a wise move to take a player who had no opportunity of climbing up for greater responsibility. Leddy signed a lengthy extension last spring with them to be a foundational piece for that team moving forward.

This is a philosophy that I hope the Rangers adapt consistently: Buy-low on young talent, give him the opportunity to succeed, and let him run with it (Benoit Pouliot as a loose example). In today’s NHL, teams need to constantly improve with younger, more cost effective talent. Now this isn’t advocating making a move for the sake of making a move, I just personally feel that to remain a competitive franchise we must have a “revolving door” which includes talented young players who must be able to fill a role and run with it.

Point 2: Defensive Depth 

The Rangers have an issue on defense. A truly efficient team must be able to move the play up the ice to start the breakout. It is absolutely imperative to be able to skate well in the modern NHL and significantly reduce the amount of time spent in the defensive zone, which assists in easy breakouts. The Rangers have two solid pieces that can do this with Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle. But that is not good enough for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

The Rangers, unfortunately, lack prospect depth to fill this area of need. Other than Brady Skjei, I am hard pressed to name one other prospect who is ready for the NHL, at least in the foreseeable future. Calle Andersson has his flaws, but can become a nice puck mover in the NHL but he is a project. Ryan Graves is solid but will need more time, plus he is a lefty, which slots him behind Skjei and re-signing Yandle. We then have Ryan Mantha and Sergey Zborovskiy who are both long term projects.

Point 3: Carolina’s mistreatment of Murphy

The Hurricanes are a quality possession team with a great coach and will be dangerous once they get more skill at forward. Their strength is their defensive depth, which includes Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Haydn Fleury, and Roland McKeown. They have depth guys in Jacob Slavin, Josh Wesley, and Keegan Lowe as well. Murphy, though, was just sent to the minors, likely to keep room for  Hanifin and Pesce.

In looking at a potential deal for Murpy, one thing Carolina lacks is a talented winger. They are tied for 27th in the league in Goals For and while they do have a nice little group of forward prospects, they can use someone now.

Point 4: The Mishandling of Emerson Etem

Alain Vigneault hasn’t handled Etem properly. Asset management is critical in the NHL, and keeping a young player on the bench who has played well isn’t proper asset management. It is pretty crazy that he is on the bench when he is playing better than two guys who are currently in the lineup.  The Rangers wanted a young forward who can produce and become a scorer in exchange for their proven asset in Carl Hagelin. Etem is being set up to fail. AV likes to use Jarret Stoll. AV likes to use Tanner Glass. He feels that those are parts of the lineup that would bring upon success. Whether I agree with him or not it doesn’t matter.

So Why Ryan Murphy?

Carolina needs some talent up front, and has defense depth to give. The Rangers need some reliable defensive depth both now and in the future, and have forward depth to give. Seems like a perfect match.

Etem can’t be returned to Hartford for playing time, since he would need to pass through waivers. Murphy doesn’t have that problem, and the Rangers can have him spend time in the AHL. Etem would probably slide right into Carolina’s starting lineup. It makes sense, on paper for both teams in the present and the future.

At his current contract Ryan Murphy was a super efficient defenseman for the Hurricanes last season:

Dashboard 1 (80)

For the sake of making a point, here is Murphy’s PSAM to other contracts as well including 3%-3.99%, roughly $2.8 million.

Dashboard 1 (81)

Based on this, Murphy is actually worth more than $2.8 million for his production. If the Rangers do get him and sign him to a cheap bridge deal, they essentially have a player that can produce at least $2.8 million dollars worth of points for about one-third of the price. Seems pretty logical to me.

Murphy’s HERO chart is also pretty promising:

Dashboard 1 (76)

Murphy is producing a very solid rate of primary points per 60 minutes of ice time (goals, first assists). He has the potential to be an offensive monster. He also has a nice impact on possession for his role as well. In today’s NHL, Murphy has the potential to be an impactful player.

For comparison’s sake, here is Leddy’s HERO chart. Given their respective career paths, it seems logical that Murphy is capable of taking the next step, like Leddy, if given the opportunity.

Nick Leddy's first 3 seasons

On paper, an Etem/Murphy swap makes logical sense. For the Rangers, it would give them a much needed right-handed puck mover, something they will lack once Dan Boyle retires. The major stepping stone here, aside from a rare in-division trade, is recognition from the Rangers that the blue line needs addressing. If that realization is made, then the Canes make solid trading partners.

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  • What universe is Emerson Etem playing well? I have not seen him make any impact. Fine play him over glass, I won’t complain, but Stoll is a face off machine and will be an important piece as the season progress.

    • He has played well in his VERY limited role (mostly 4th line minutes). We all need to see more, now’s the time with Stepan hurt.

      • I wouldn’t say he’s played well. He’s been ok.

        The Rangers are coming off two out of three really strong efforts. Why change it up now if the team maybe has found some chemistry? That would be like saying, let’s recall Skjei and slot him in, just for the heck of it.

        I get what you are are saying. I’d like to see Etem as well. But it is a long season and frankly I don’t see what the rush is.

        • He’s been handling his duties in the limited role he’s been given.

          Not to beat this dead horse, but if we all agree Glass isn’t a part of the long term success of this team, why continue to put him out there?

          Stepan’s injury is the perfect opportunity to see what you have, yet Glass finds his way into the lineup all over again.

          • On a certain level I get that and agree. But the chemistry experiment that is an NHL roster is a complex thing. I’m no Glass fan, but he has played with more energy since his recall than I saw most of last season. His teammates love him, the coach trusts him. I’m not sure why exactly, but maybe right now, while the Rangers are trying to right the ship a bit, he’s the guy you go with for a stretch.

            I can’t see Glass sticking on the roster long term anyway. The Rangers cap situation looks better with him in Hartford.

            And, just a hunch and a long shot, someone might be willing to take him off our hands. Far better chance of that if he plays competently on the NHL level than languish in Hartford.

  • Good piece. Etem has top six talent and is being criminally underused. So while it would be a loss to the forward talent level this could be viewed more as a traditional hockey trade

    On Murphy, what’s causing him to be passed in Carolina? Missed assignments or mental errors? I know he was heralded as a PP QB type but doesn’t even seem to be getting those opportunities

    • Top 6 potential? Maybe. Top 6 proven NHL talent? Not yet. Not even close.

      He hasn’t proven a thing yet to say he’s been “criminally underused”.

      • What am I missing with Emerson Etem?

        I never notice him from game to game let alone shift to shift.

        You earn a top six role from the bottom six and play your way up. See Oscar Lindberg.

        I guess I am not scout material, because I don’t ever gripe when I hear Etem is in the press box.

  • IMHO the Rangers should look to move Marc Staal. He has a NTC/Modified NMC but he’s been awful this season. Don’t know if it’s confidence or he’s still not 100% from last seasons foot injury but he’s been real bad for his contract.
    I know Girardi has an equally bad contract but he’s a righty. Harder to replace.
    Having this Murphy kid on the back end would certainly address a flaw on this Rangers Organization.

    • Why do so many fans hate on Marc Staal? You realize he has to pick up the slack for that salary cap anchor, Boyle.

        • Sometimes I think my TV shows a different game than what you guys are watching. You all rave about Yandle and rag on Staal. Yandle sucks, give me Staal on my team anyday.

    • I will say it again….this isn’t a fantasy league. Staal and Girardi have full NMCs and it isn’t likely they would agree to go anywhere. And even if they did, it would have to be a team they were willing to go to that has the cap space and the need. About a 1% chance of that happening.

  • What are you talking about here.?? Nick Leddy your jealous of, we stole Yandle.
    Why do we need defensemen.??? I think we have a need for more scoring then defense. We have seven guys right now, an still have a guy or two in Hartford for the future.

    • The Rangers need another defenseman. This much I believe. The team’s long term defensive look isn’t that rosy.

      The problem is two high paid defensemen getting significant minutes aren’t really good and are signed long term. Boyle and Yandle are UFAs after the season. Not a great outlook. Even if McIrath turns into an everyday player, and Skjei is ready, there is still a need.

      By the way, the Yandle deal wasn’t a steal. Pretty hefty price paid for him.

    • I agree with jk. While certainly the defense needs to be better, in the end of the day I always worry about our pass happy offense not finishing on scoring chances–especially in post season.

      We need an MSL type. Not the cooked MSL from last Spring, but the second line finisher who was dynamic in the 2014 playoffs and strong in the first half of the season last year. We need a veteran scorer who can take the load off of some of the other guys who seem to prefer to set everyone else up.

      I don’t see an easy way to improve the defense via trade right now. That will come next summer. We simply need for these guys, who with the exception of Boyle are all in their prime years, to shake off the rust, injuries, what have you, and play as they have the last two seasons.

      The last three games defensively have been more like Rangers hockey. If they do that, which is a more than a reasonable expectation, then we will be fine.

  • I like the comparative analysis Josh, but you are leaving out the most important part of the Leddy trade. The only reason Leddy was dealt for pennies on the dollar was Chicago being unable to get under the cap on the eve of last season. Chicago would have loved to have kept Leddy but their hand was forced. It was either send Leddy to the AHL and lose him via waivers or trade him for peanuts. Carolina is nowhere near that situation with Murphy. Ryan Murphy is waiver exempt and Carolina can re-sign him for next to nothing over the summer.

    Sure, it never hurts to bring in another D, but isn’t losing Etem creating a huge depth issue for the Rangers? As of now, the only options, outside of Etem, to step in to the top 9 are the three NHL rejects in Hartford, Megna, Gibbons, and Adam. Personally, I think Etem is miles better than those three.

    Murphy doesn’t really fill a need for the Rangers. If the Rangers need a D they can call up Skjei, possibly Diaz (if he doesn’t leave the org), even a guy like Ryan Graves can be called up in an emergency. And in a few weeks the Rangers will have 7 NHL D again once Klein returns.

    Staal and Girardi aren’t going anywhere this season. You better hope they improve down the stretch as they get healthier and stronger (I think they will).

    • Brilliantly said Chris. Agree completely.

      Everyone is screaming that this guy and that guy is being underutilized. Yet what’s wrong with having a quality depth option? McIlrath has stepped in for Klein and the team has responded. When Etem turn comes, hopefully the same happens. Sure beats calling up borderline NHL/AHL players.

    • He’s tiny. I think he’s smaller than Karlsson from Ottawa.

      Mat Bodie is probably another Matt Gilroy. Though the Rangers did elect to keep Bodie over Connor Allen, so they have some faith in the guy.

      • I said before that Bodeie is too small for D, so he should be made a checking forward just like Gilroy should have been.

  • Loose Etem? Really? I would go so far as to package Etem AND Hayes for Ryan Murphy and a 2nd round pick. We are going to have a CAP crunch anyway, and someone is going to be odd man out. Eliminate that possibility by moving Etem & Hayes. This will allow a Pavel Buch.. to also get a spot for the 2nd half run to see if he has what it takes. We then can choose to sign Kreider & Yandle. We get Stepan back and move Klein. Cap space to spare.

    Nash/Brass/Zucc
    Kreider/Stepan/Buchnevich
    JT/Oskar/Fast
    Moore/Stoll/Glass

    McD/Girardi
    Yandle/Stall
    Boyle/Murphy/McIlvaine

      • Nah, you don’t trade Hayes. Hayes is a star in the making, you just need to be a lot more patient with him. The guy hasn’t even played 150 professional games yet.

          • Going to be Hayes or Kreider – I can’t see us signing both – Who do you choose?

          • They can sign both if Kreider ends up not getting a huge raise. Yandle too, but it means dumping Klein.

            If Kreider gets a significant raise then Yandle walks.

            The cap is should be going up by more than $3M next summer. The Rangers cap situation isn’t as dire as some say. The tough decisions are going to be how to go about filling in the 4th line. It’s likely the entire current 4th line is let go this summer.

          • At this point, I don’t believe Kreider is playing up to a huge raise. Unless both pick it up, they should be able to fit both in.

  • At this stage, what makes Etem desirable to any team in a trade? Potential? And why are we so quick to get rid of Etem, if he has all this potential that all his supporters think he has? It would make the Hagelin deal look even worse if we give up on him so quickly—-Cap restraints or not.

      • At this point, how much value would you get for a guy who can’t even get into the lineup over a Tanner Glass?

        • confused, are you saying you wouldn’t make this trade because it would make the Hagelin deal look worse? isn’t it better to try and improve the club than to try and make a deal that already happened look better?

          I don’t know, maybe some day Etem can grow into a role replacing what Hagelin brought to this team – 35 points a year secondary scoring on the third line and pk – but that’s a way off and if there’s a way he can be used to improve the team today, I’d do it, whether that is in the lineup if he can contribute or packaged as a trade. personally I’d do this trade if there was a deal to do there. not so sure the Canes would bite

          • Thats just it—I don’t think Etem alone will get you Murphy. What would they have to package with him to pull it off. I can’t really see how Etem, alone, can net anything tangible in a trade.

      • And they replaced him with NOTHING!! A top 9 forward taken out of the lineup of a team who claims they are on the cusp, and replaced by nothing more than a nightly seat in the pressbox. I’ve come to terms with reasons behind the deal a long time ago. My beef is that they got nothing more tangible in the deal–something that could have helped this year. Not that I was expecting a 4mil type of player—that would do nothing regarding the cap. But something more than what an Etem has showed. Now, to even consider dumping Etem so quickly, further shows that the deal was nothing more than a cap-relief deal. Lets see Etem play a few weeks in a row, and put him in positions to be successful. Maybe we can benefit from finally seeing all his potential for ourselves. This is the time to do it. Sitting out game after game is just a waste. As would be trading him away so quickly.

        • Hags the player has been replaced in the lineup by Fast. Fast slots in on the wing for the 2nd through 4th line seamlessly. He’s the new top PK wing. He’s exactly what Hagelin was.

          Hags the asset was turned into Etem, three draft picks, and about $1.6M in cap space (Hags 2014 Cap hit minus Etem’s 2015 Cap hit).

          You can’t look at a trade at face value anymore. The Salary Cap really does add another level of complexity and value to a trade.

        • They replaced him with current players taking on bigger roles like Fast and JT Miller. I don’t view Etem as the replacement for Hagelin.

          • Fasth and Miller were already slated to be on the roster before the trade. Right now, they are filling the same roles as last year. I maintain that Mgmt thought that Etem could step right in—they bragged about how they had liked him during his draft year. He is the guy they wanted, supposedly. I doubt they brought him here to sit out as much as he has. At this point, I can’t see Etem as a replacement for anyone.

          • Believe me, Joe, if another top 9 forward goes down, Etem will be playing every day

          • I’d love to see it—not the injury—-but he needs to play. If only to let the coaches know what they have.

      • I LOVE Hagelin, I threw a fit when he was traded, but it was a deal that had to be made. If only Etem were being used properly, it would wind up being a great deal for NYR.

    • A Murphy for Etem deal would be getting fair value back. I would’ve traded Hagelin for Murphy in a heartbeat at the deadline if that were available.

    • The reality is we haven’t really missed Hags to any great extent to this point. The PK, his area of speciality, remains terrific. In the end, the assessment by Rangers management was correct–they had internal options to replace him. Obviously, we’d all rather have him, but not at that price or length of years, that’s for sure. That’s how the cap works, like it or not.

      As for Etem, justifying the Hags deal is not why you keep him or not. If he can be flipped for another piece that helps you more, that’s as good as making a direct swap.

      Way too soon to draw any conclusions yet on Etem.

      • Maybe so Eddie, but you know, if they deal Etem away so quickly, that Mgmt is gonna take hit in the press. And unless they can package him with something else, right now, I don’t see how much he would garner in a trade.

        • If they turn Etem into Ryan Murphy that would be an amazing trade. Yes, the Rangers would be short upfront, but that would be a massive upgrade in talent and value for the organization.

          Ds are worth way way more than forwards. The knock on effect is that most likely another young D or a future pick would have to be shipped out to replace Etem.

        • I’m not so concerned with management’s reputation in the press. I’d rather have a contributing player on the roster that can shore up the defensive situation

          • Which is exactly what mgmt led us to believe Etem would be. To give up on him so quickly would reflect very badly on them. And believe me, the suits at MSG do not like bad press, no matter whether it is concern to us or not.

    • And this is why you have to force feed Etem minutes. If AV doesn’t rate him, you still have to make him look good enough to max out value for him. Have him on the 2nd line for 2-3 weeks to flatter him, then send him & a pick to Colorado forTyson Barrie or a box of Trojans.

      AV needs to be on the same page with Gorton. Bag points, then tinker to get your best 23, then kill it come playoff time.

  • Murphy was an offensive dynamo in Junior but in the NHL he is up against forwards who are bigger than he is. Sorry but on D I want guys who are really strong along the boards, so Murphy is not a guy I’d want. Brady Skjei is bigger and a good skater so I’d stick with him for next year.

    • Agreed, Skjei is the better prospect at this point. Personally, I’d be ok with both.

    • Murphy is like Pouliot in PIT: wizard on the puck, not big enough to watch a cheesecake. Have to have A+++ O & B+ D with a Beuk style partner to make it work in the show. Otherwise go to Europe or be emergency call up.

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