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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The former Hurricane split last season between Minnesota and AHL Iowa, scoring 28 points in 48 games at the lower level but making a minimal impact in the NHL. Murphy has strong passing skills and offensive instincts, but the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft has never been able to add the defensive element to his game necessary to stick as a stalwart on a top pairing. He re-signed with the Wild in the offseason but only on a two-way deal, meaning that he'll once again serve as AHL depth and get the call when one of the team's power-play quarterbacks goes down with an injury.
Landing in Minnesota is an ideal situation for Murphy, as he can learn from veteran rearguard Ryan Suter and his top-pairing companion, Jared Spurgeon; those two finished plus-34 and plus-33 respectively last season. Murphy managed only 37 points (six goals, 31 assists) in 151 games with Carolina over the last five years, and his cumulative minus-36 rating further dampened what little fantasy value he otherwise might've had. He suddenly has sleeper appeal now that he's with a team that boasted the best goal differential (plus-58) in the Western Conference last season.
Murphy appeared in 37 games with the Hurricanes in 2014-15, racking up four goals and 13 points. The 22-year-old struck three times on the power play and fired 61 shots on goal, showing off his plentiful offensive upside. The blueliner is a rising talent who figures to take on an increased role with the Hurricanes in 2015-16, and that makes him a worthy late-round flier in deeper leagues. While Justin Faulk is the quarterback of the first power-play unit, Murphy could be tasked with manning the point on the second unit while providing supplemental offense behind the Staal brothers, Jeff Skinner, and the up-and-coming Elias Lindholm. Murphy should use his terrific instincts and passing ability to demonstrate why the 'Canes selected him with the 12th overall pick in 2011.
As a 20-year-old rookie, Murphy was shaping up to be a full-time member of the Hurricanes last season, and played in all but eight of the Canes’ first 47 games. However, he subsequently suffered an upper-body injury in January, forcing him to miss 18 games, and once healthy, he only played nine more games at the NHL level, spending the remainder of his time at AHL Charlotte. This season, Murphy will surely be given another shot at cracking the Canes’ roster out of training camp, but will face stiff competition for a spot on the third defensive pairing from the likes of Brett Bellemore, Tim Gleason and John-Michael Liles. Murphy has a ton of offensive talent and projects as the Canes’ top puck-rushing defenseman of the future, but it may take another season or two for him to hit his stride.
Murphy is a high-ceiling prospect who should be owned in all keeper leagues. He concluded a brilliant OHL career and after a few years of intensive on the job training will become an impact defenseman for Carolina. A word of caution is in order. Dominating in leagues outside the NHL is worlds away from dominating within the NHL. Murphy is going to have a fine pro career but much like other recent highly touted young defensemen (like Victor Hedman and Adam Larsson to name two) it may be a bumpy road to stardom. Buy with confidence but take the long view as Murphy develops at the NHL level.
It would be a gross understatement to say that Murphy, the 12th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is an offensive-minded defenseman. The 18-year-old tallied 26 goals and 79 points in 63 games with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL last season, and if he can improve his defensive, Murphy will find himself playing for the Hurricanes sooner than later.