Ryan Murphy, D Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Born: March 31, 1993 in Aurora, Ontario
Strengths: The most skilled prospect at the defense position in the entire 2011 draft. Amazing speed, elusiveness and balance- a 5+ skater on the 1-5 scale; explosive acceleration, dynamic top speed with extra separation gear. A master of his edges; can cut and turn on a dime and shake would-be forecheckers with ease. When he revs it up through the neutral zone, few can slow him down. Outstanding four-way directional movement with both blazing mobility and slippery agility with and without the puck. Excellent puckhandler who can make all his moves at full gallop. Keeps his head up and sees the ice beautifully. Super passer who can make every breakout with ease, either with the short-to-intermediate crisp tape-to-tape feed or the long, accurate stretch pass to spring the breakaway. High-end distributor on offense; able to exploit seams in defenses at will and unselfish with the puck. As pure gunslinger from the backline as you will find: possesses a true bomb from the point that is hard, heavy and accurate. Gets it off quickly and has the instinctive feel for when to shoot and when to move it to a better scoring position. Uses his excellent lateral agility to open up shooting lanes for himself, making him a dual shooting/passing threat every time the puck is in the offensive zone. Highly creative; thinks and reacts so much faster than 95% of his opponents at this level. Made one play that astounded scouts in attendance for Game 5 of opening series vs. Plymouth where he purposefully shot the puck off the backend to teammate Jerry D'Amigo, who buried it for a lead late in the game. Defensive improvement shows he has the work ethic and desire to be a player. Has mastered the art of the hip check; uses his superior smarts and mobility to lay out opponents much bigger and stronger than he. Quick, active stick to deny players who try to take the puck into traffic. Solid positionally; doesn't hurt his team with many mistakes or bad decisions. Hockey sense is simply off the charts in terms of his vision, judgment of when to activate, and the ability to read the play and make the right decisions both offensively and defensively. A leader and very high character player who came into the OHL with a lot of fanfare and has thus far has not only delivered, but raised the bar.
Weaknesses: With Murphy it's all about the size and strength issues. As skilled a player as he is, he'll have to account for bigger, faster, stronger forwards in the NHL and pros who will drive straight to the net and be difficult to contain on the cycle. Last season, his defense was a major question mark, more owing to the fact that he never really had to worry much about playing in his own end at the lower levels. However, he addressed his shortcoming to the satisfaction of most who watched him this season. No major flaws to his game- a major league talent who simply has to keep proving himself as he has already done.
Ryan Murphy HNIC Don Cherry video (Thanks Dominic Tiano for posting on YT)
Interview with Ryan Murphy at the NHL Scouting Combine (B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Paul Coffey, Phil Housley
Draft prediction:Murphy came into the season with a bum rap about his lack of size and inability to play defense, but the 79-point scorer for Kitchener answered a lot of questions. He's better positionally, though he'll still face challenges when dealing with the pure strength and power of hockey's bigger, skilled forwards. Even with those concerns, however, Murphy established himself as a clear-cut top-10 pick this season. His talent level and commitment are so high and he'll not be long in waiting at the XCel Energy Center on the 24th. He's a perfect fit for Boston, but rumors abound that at least one team picking ahead of the Bruins at 9 are hot for Murphy. We'll see how it all plays out in about 10 days. He's probably several years from being ready for NHL action, but the idea of Murphy and Zdeno Chara together at some point has to bring a lot of appeal.
Projection: Top pairing potential and ace power play specialist. Murphy still has some scouts questioning whether he can be a regular rotation defender, but others are sold. At the very least, he'd be a third-pairing guy and special teamer. Guys with Murphy's skill level and character don't always come around, and given Boston's dearth of projectable high-end talent at the defense position, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the B's braintrust coveted him.
Background:A standout for the York-Simcoe Express as a minor midget, where he was coached by fellow 2011 draft prospect Daniel Catenacci's father, Maurice. Brampton winger Barclay Goodrow was also on that Express team with Murphy and Catenacci. Drafted third overall in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection by Kitchener. Had 6 goals, 39 points in 62 OHL games as a rookie; doubled his production in second OHL campaign: has a steep developmental curve (26-53-79). Finished second only to Windsor Spitfires veteran (and Nashville first-round pick in 2009) Ryan Ellis in scoring for defensemen in the OHL (Ellis had 24 goals, 100 points). Was not selected for the 2010 Team Canada Under-18 squad that captured gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August despite scoring a hat trick (4 total points) in the final scrimmage at evaluation camp in Calgary. Set Team Canada scoring record at World Under-18 tournament for points with 13 in seven games. Formed part of a legitimate leadership core- wearing the 'A' alongside team captain Gabriel Landeskog. Favorite NHL team: Chicago Blackhawks Favorite NHL player: Mike Green
If Murphy had his own soundtrack it would be: "Anthem of the Underdog"- 12 Stones
"There are two schools of thought on Murphy; he's not that strong in his own end. I mean, he's easily knocked off the puck and he'll take the puck and go with it all the time, so he needs to get better at refining his defensive techniques and paying a little more attention to what he needs to do in his own end. But, he's so dynamic. You look at a kid like Ryan Ellis; Murphy is so much of a better skater than Ellis will ever hope to be. And he's a lot more intelligent with the puck on his stick than Ellis and that's saying something, because Ellis is one of the most intelligent quarterbacks back there on the blue line that I have seen come along in the last 10 or 12 years. So, Murphy has all the things that Ellis does and much, much better skating ability with dynamic speed and acceleration. So, those are the things you accentuate. He's certainly going to be a power play quarterback who can quarterback a top power play in the NHL. The question is whether he-- he certainly has room to improve in his own end-- the question is will he take the coaching and will he get better at that? That's going to be the difference as to whether he's more of a specialist or a guy who puts up 20 minutes a night."- Kyle Woodlief, Chief Scout and Publisher, Red Line Report; December 2010
"I think he's a much more dynamic player than Ellis is. If you don't stop this kid at (his) own blue line, you're ****ed."- NHL scout to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; August 2010
"He's such a smart player with the way he activates. He sees the ice so well and has that instinctive feel for finding the openings and moving the puck to his teammates for quality scoring chances. He's confident and aggressive with the way he handles the puck, and really, when he's on the ice, it's like having four forwards out there at all times."- Kitchener head coach Steve Spott to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; January 2011
"He's improved significantly. What you have to understand about Ryan is that he's such a hard worker and is driven to be a better player in all aspects of the game. The first question I get from NHL scouts is, 'Can he defend?' and my answer is: 'Yes, he can!' His hockey IQ is so high, and while he's still working on his strength to win those 1-on-1 puck battles he's smart enough to win a lot of those and he's so competitive that he's able to be effective in his own zone."- Kitchener head coach Steve Spott to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; January 2011
"What Ryan is going to have to overcome is risk. He'll have to deal with it his entire career, and NHL teams will have to decide how much risk they are willing to take with him. I think you saw that question answered a few years ago with a player that can do similar things in Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators). After watching him in this league and in tournaments like the World Juniors, I don't know that there is any question that he'll wear the (Nashville) sweater. I could see how there would be questions surrounding Ryan Murphy, but when it comes to risk, he's well worth it in my opinion."- Kitchener head coach Steve Spott to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; January 2011
"Murphy has looked great so far (in the 2011 playoffs). He looks like a top-10 pick...top-five, actually, with the way he's played."- NHL scout to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; April 2011
"Ryan's work on the power play is outstanding, He sees the ice very well and is creative, [has] excellent passing ability and a great shot that he gets through to the net. (He's) also an excellent all-round skater. He's got real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he's going to have to concentrate on making good plays."- Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com; May, 2011
Murphy in his own words:
"Obviously, I'm an offensive defenseman and I have the skating and skills to be a factor offensively. I like to join the rush and I can help on the power play. But beyond that, I'm an improved player defensively from where I was. I think I've learned how to play the position more effectively; how to use my feet and my head to make the right plays and be in position to prevent other team's from scoring goals. I'm still learning, but I know that I can be counted on to be an effective player at both ends of the ice, and that's what I would tell any NHL team."- Ryan Murphy to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; January, 2011
"I don't think you can ever be satisfied with where you are as an individual player. Losing to Windsor in last season's playoffs taught me a lot about how far I have to go in my own development."- Ryan Murphy to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch; January, 2011
True Hockey feature on Ryan Murphy by Greg Thomson
Adam Kimmelman: Murphy wants to be known as all-around defenseman (NHL.com)
Murphy does some looking at the Reebok Store