Irresponsible Rumormongering

Trade target: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft

Last week we began examining possible trade deadline targets to help the defense with Michael Stone of the Coyotes. This week, we’re turning our attention to another righty D-man – Ryan Murphy – that has been pushed down the depth chart and no longer looks like he has a future with his club.

Murphy was Carolina’s first-round pick in 2011 – three slots before the Blueshirts selected J.T. Miller. He was billed as a future power play quarterback and offensive dynamo, but Murphy has only played 135 NHL games with the Hurricanes and never more than 48 in a single season.

Carolina is swimming in stud young defensemen, from known commodities like Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin, to under-the-radar rising stars Jacob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Part of Murphy’s lack of chances can be blamed on his team’s enviable depth chart, but he’s also been very slow to develop and it seems like Carolina is more than ready to part ways with their former top pick.

Unlike Stone, an acquisition of Murphy would likely be done with more of an eye to the future than immediate help this season. It’s very difficult to imagine Alain Vigneault slotting the unproven Murphy into his lineup ahead of veterans Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi, and Murphy would even be behind Adam Clendening in the pecking order.

However, Murphy is a quick puck-moving defenseman, which the Blueshirts are obviously lacking. Murphy could likely be had on the cheap from Carolina and serve as depth for this year’s playoff run, with a real shot at making the team out of training camp next year when there will obviously be major changes to the blueline and Murphy might get a fresh start. Given Murphy’s own disappointing career thus far and the list of other players the Blueshirts will be unable to protect, it’s unlikely New York would be at risk of trading for Murphy and then immediately losing him to expansion.

For some more background on Murphy, I sent a few questions to Brian LeBlanc of Canes Country:

Q: What’s the biggest thing that has held Murphy back from earning full-time NHL duty? Is it more a product of the ‘Canes depth on defense, or Murphy’s own performance?

A: Mostly, it’s his own performance. Slavin and Pesce, lower-round draft picks, have quickly surpassed him on the depth chart, and he’s now stuck in no-man’s land. He’s a quad-A player who’s too good for the AHL but not any better than a spot-duty player in the NHL. We know that defensemen take a while to develop, but Murphy’s development has plateaued for at least three years now. At this point, he is what he is, and we’ve just never seen a breakout. The fact that he’s a regular healthy scratch with the likes of Klas Dahlbeck and, at times, Matt Tennyson tells you all you really need to know.

Q: What’s your opinion of Murphy’s career arc at this point? Fulfilling expectations as a first-round draft pick seems unlikely at this stage – but do you think he still has an NHL future ahead of him?

A: It was always a stretch to take Murphy at the 12th pick. His size has always been a major issue, and as the proverb goes, that’s not something you can teach. In the right scenario he could be a power play specialist, but that’s probably his NHL ceiling at this point. Personally, I think he may have more of a future overseas, where his lack of height and questionable defense (see below) aren’t as glaringly obvious as they are in the NHL. If Kevin Dallman, of all people, can be the best defenseman in the KHL, Murphy could be an all-timer over there.

One thing to keep an eye on: if he qualifies, he is almost certain to be exposed for the expansion draft. However, as of right now he still needs to play 24 games to qualify, which could force the Canes’ hand and cause them to sign Tennyson, Dahlbeck or maybe Ron Hainsey to an extension with the intent of exposing them instead. At this point there’s still time for Murphy to play enough to be exposed, but it could be that Murphy is dealt for an [expansion] draft-eligible player instead. There are a lot of moving parts here, so stay tuned.

Q: What are his strengths and weaknesses? How has he developed since his draft year?

A: To be honest, he has become a little more reliable in the offensive end, but not by a whole lot. He’s capable of making some ridiculous moves with the puck and he’s a very smooth skater, but too often he gets himself into situations where he turns the puck over too easily. His Corsi is good, but his Fenwick is awful (46%!), which means that a ton of his shots get blocked and accomplish nothing. And defensively, he’s, uh, lacking. Even though 46% of his shifts start in the offensive zone, the second-highest number on the team, he ends 33% of them in the defensive zone. Simply, when Murphy is on the ice, the Hurricanes move backwards.

Q: Are you of the opinion that Carolina will look to deal him? If so, what would you expect for a return?

A: Murphy has been on the trade block for months now with no takers, and while I’m sure the Canes would love to move him, his cap hit remains so low (a shade under $800K) and he remains a serviceable enough seventh defenseman that they may just hang onto him. The one thing that could change the calculus, as mentioned earlier, is the expansion draft. If Murphy could be moved for a player that would give the Canes a little more than he provides, plus has expansion draft eligibility, I don’t think Ron Francis would wait at all to make that move. Otherwise? A mid-round draft pick, tops.

Big thanks to Brian for the help with this post – be sure to check out his site!

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  • Meh, if the Rangers do not land a big D man fish then don’t waste any assets on Murphy, Stone, or Franson, won’t do any good.

  • This is just what this team needs, undersized, lousy defensive play, what more can we ask for ??????? Who’s next that we can discuss, because this one stinks up this page !!!!!!!!!!

    • Agree Walt. Murphy doesn’t seem to be the answer. But I do have to point out my friend that Murphy could be the poster child as to the dangers of putting too many eggs into the drafting basket. If the Canes could do that one over again, perhaps trading that pick while it still had value would have yielded a better player for them in what has become a lengthy rebuilding process.

    • 100% with you Walt. I don’t want any more washouts, from other teams. We have enough of them ourselves. We’re looking to man an NHL team, not stock Hartford with busts from other teams.

  • Some times a change in scenery and systems helps , Grabner , Puempel a 4th or 5th would not hurt but it would need to done now so we can evaluate and see if he fits the AV system

    • Ding ding ding. Fits the mold of gambling on talent over role players. Might not work out, but won’t cost much, and has the pedigree to turn it around.

      Clearly, skill on the blueline – especially on the right side – is a huge need

  • Offer up Fast for Murphy. The Rangers would gain depth on the Blue line and give up only a spare part that provides no offence and is highly overrated on defence.

    • Fast for Murphy? You can’t be serious.

      I truly do not get the Fast hate. He’s beloved by his teammates. They believe he makes any line he’s on better. He does all the little things that helps the team to be successful. One of the best work ethics on the team.

      No chance that happens. Zero.

  • While everyone is busy hating on Murray this morning, Justin Schultz is chilling in Pittsburgh- currently the 5th leading scorer among NHL defensemen after 3.5 seasons as a ‘dud’ in Edmonton. He was acquired for a 3rd round pick and Edm retained half of his salary last year. He helped Pittsburgh win a cup.

    Point being, there could be something there. Outside of Graves, we’re barren of close-to-NHL defensemen. If Carolina is looking for D who could be exposed in the expansion draft, we’ve got Holden and Klein. Might this be an opportunity to rid ourselves of the regressing Klein while recouping an asset and shedding salary? If you’re of the camp that you’d like to hold onto Klein perhaps a Hrivik or Jensen + low pick gets it done.

    Just some food for thought….

    • Exactly Hatrick. Klein for Murphy sounds like a good fit for both teams.

      The Rangers get a D that should open some eyes once he has some actual talent around him and sheds the pressure of being a 12th overall pick (I like the Schultz comp). The Canes get a D they can expose in the expansion draft that only has one year left on his contract.

      The real downside I see with Murphy is trying to keep him from being exposed in the expansion draft. Klein, as bad as he’s been, can be replaced by calling up Kampher and making Clendo the 6th D.

      Looking at Murphy a bit more I see he has produced at all levels (point per game in the OHL and AHL), even his NHL production isn’t terrible. A D that can score at a 30 point per year pace on one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL is intriguing.

      One last oddball item. If the Rangers acquire Murphy for Klein, it would give the Rangers 7 of the first 38 picks from the 2011 draft (Mika, Murphy, JT Miller, Puempel, Jensen, Clendening, Hellberg).

      • Interesting stat in that last paragraph, Chris. Way to dig that up.

        Losing in expansion is always a concern to some degree, but I’d be very surprised if LV passed over Grabner, Raanta, Fast and Lindberg for Murphy. Worst case, if that were to happen, we’d sacrifice Klein to gain Murphy who would then spare those 4 players. Think of it like trading Klein to keep Grabner for next year, who’s tearing it up for us right now.

        The more I think of it, the more I’d be of the mindset to pull the trigger on this with the caveat that I have not seen Murphy play much at all and am no NHL scout. From the Rangers side of things, I’m willing to risk that Klein is not “the piece that gets us over the hump this year” and therefore he is expendable if he were theoretically able to get this done for us. That’s where I’m at.

        • I should clarify what I meant re: Murphy and the expansion draft. If Murphy comes to the Rangers and plays enough games to become draft eligible, it means he’s likely succeeding with the Rangers. If Murphy is showing signs of being a success then Vegas would be all over him, young D, RH shot, offensive upside, low cap hit, under team control for a decent amount of years.

          That’s all I meant. As for losing Klein, he’s below replacement level at this point, so I would cry zero tears seeing him leave.

          • Gotcha. An interesting caveat. My assumption (with AV’s track record) would be that he’d get the Clendenning/McIlrath treatment and most likely not suit up on a nightly basis. How many games would he have to play of the remaining season in order to become draft eligible?

          • Based on Kevin’s interview with the Canes blogger, 24 more NHL games (that would include playoff games).

            As far as AV playing Murphy, AV has shown a willingness to play talented players (Buch, Skjei, Vesey) as long as they aren’t making completely boneheaded plays.

            I’ve said it before, Clendening doesn’t manage the puck well enough to merit lots of ice time. He gives the puck away far too cheaply. For an alleged offensive player Clendening tends to make horrible first passes on the breakout. And it’s not just his decision making, his execution is poor too. Not enough tape to tape breakout passes for my liking.

      • Chris, great research! And again, makes my point to those who say hold on to draft picks at all costs. Of that group, Miller has become a good player. Mika when healthy looks good too. Maybe we will get lucky with Puempel. The rest look like journeyman NHLers at best.

        The point is, there are no elite stars. No difference making players. Which is why I’m ok with dealing picks, especially when the team is not picking in a lottery spot.

        On a related note, did anyone see Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts yesterday? He said that the word he’s hearing from the GMs he’s talked to is that teams may be more willing to part with their number one picks this year because this is supposed to be a relatively weak draft class this summer. I suspect also, with so many teams in the playoff hunt, that would influence the notion of trading future for present.

        Of course, the flip side to that argument is that if the draft class is weak, then teams shooting for the future may not be all that interested in dealing for 2017 number ones. Should be interesting.

        Another article of note–John Shannon’s just released NHL Top 25 power brokers. While no Ranger made the that list, Jeff Gorton made honorable mention, as Shannon said “Gorton’s hockey savvy has the Rangers rebuilding and winning at the same time”. So, props to our GM!

        • Thanks Eddie and Hatrick. As far as ‘doing research’ I just clicked on hockey-reference and when I happened to look at the 2011 draft, I noticed a lot of familiar names. Incidentally, the Rangers 2011 draft was terrible. After JT Miller, the only other player of note from that year is 3rd round pick Steven Fogarty at 72. Past that, it’s nothing but ECHL dreck and guys that have washed out of the organization.

          And to reinforce Eddie’s point about the draft being a crapshoot, the best recent draft year the Rangers have had was 2013 when they had zero 1st and 2nd round picks and walked away with Buch, Duclair, Graves, Skapski, and Tambellini (who is looking kind of like a bust at the moment).

      • “Klein for Murphy sounds like a good fit for both teams”

        Being the ‘Canes are my second team, this really doesn’t work for Carolina. They want expansion fodder yes. However, they have a very tight budget. Adding Klein’s cap hit isn’t good for them because he’d be sitting in the press box. I don’t see them trading for someone that expansive to sit in the press box. I don’t see Klein as an upgrade over Matt Tennyson at this point.

        • If adding less than $1M in net salary for this year is too much for Canes ownership, maybe they should consider selling the team?

          And trading for Klein is cheaper than extending Hainsey just to expose him at the expansion draft. I guess they could go super cheap and sign Tennyson, but who’s to say Tennyson signs in June before free agency begins?

        • Thanks for the insight, John. I’m sure the Ranger would retain salary for this year and next to get something like that done. Say they held onto 1 mil, that makes Klein a caphit of 1.9 for his tenure in Carolina which should be manageable.

    • Man, forget about “food”, you just served up a “banquet” of thought. Well done and definitely gets me to reconsider. Would I trade Klein for him? Not sure. Could he be had for a 3rd and 4th rounder? I’d do that.

    • Let’s face it the Pens could make any player look good if he has any offensive skills. I’ll admit it was highway robbery with the Oiler’s paying half his pay !!!!!!!!

    • This is where I was going to go. The problem is AV and his patience with young defensemen. If Graves comes in an has a turnover that leads to a goal, he is toast. AV has little forgiveness in his heart for this.

      • Ummmmm……to offer a counterpoint to this argument, would Mr. Brady Skjei please take the stand? I think his testimony would quickly disprove your assertion. 🙂

        Funny thing about “patience with young defensemen”. Seems many coaches are similarly cautious. As an example, I was listening to NHL Network Radio yesterday and they had on one of the beat writers that covers the Flyers. They were talking about Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers young stud defenseman. He’s had a regression in his play this season, and Hakstol (who, by the way, built his reputation at UND based on his development of young players) has made him a healthy scratch three times this season to send him a message. (when I heard that I immediately wondered what the reaction would be if Ghost Bear were a Ranger and AV did the same thing–everyone would be calling for his head!)

        Torts and Victor Hedman have both commented that it can take a long time for a defenseman to develop. Hard to fault a coach for wanting to be cautious. And again, NONE OF US have any idea if Graves is truly ready yet. That’s not an AV call anyway. He likely has no idea either. That’s a front office decision made in conjunction with Gernander and Schoenfeld.

  • Nice, write up Kevin, I like how this article and the Stone article, has info from bloggers of the other trams to give more of the story.

    If they dont address the first line defense no point on attempting to fix the third line. In addition if they fix the first line, is AV playing any of these guys over Girardi, doubtful so id save the assets.

  • “Murphy is a quick puck-moving defenseman, which the Blueshirts are obviously lacking. ”

    Don’t the Rangers already have a puck-moving defenseman who lacks a bit of defensive-zone prowess in Clendening? Don’t see how this is any different.

    • I don’t think Clendening is that at all. He’s more of an undersized, average skater, with questionable ability to read the play, and a bad habit of spraying inaccurate passes.

      Murphy is probably the same, but when you’re desperate, you have to take chances, especially if those chances can be done for relatively little.

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