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After ‘frustrating’ year with ‘Canes, Murphy could be headed to Vegas

It’s been a tough for Carolina d-man Ryan Murphy.

Murphy, the 12th overall pick at the 2011 draft, was projected to make the leap this season after injuries and ineffectiveness rendered him a part-timer through his first four NHL campaigns.

But it hasn’t happened. Injuries and a lack of trust from head coach Bill Peters have limited him to just 18 games — and now, there’s serious talk about him moving on.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Murphy is aware the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, will be in business in the 2017-18 season. An expansion draft will be held in June to stock the new team’s roster, and 30 general managers in the league are strategizing over which players will be exposed for the draft.

Murphy, who turns 24 on March 31, could be one if he stays in the Canes lineup the rest of the season. One criteria is that a player have 70 total games over the past two seasons to be expansion-draft eligible. Murphy has played 53 – 18 this season – with 19 games remaining in Carolina’s season following a 3-1 road loss Tuesday against Colorado.

“We’ve got a couple of different options we’re looking at,” general manager Ron Francis said last week. “Certainly if he plays all the games that would be one guy who would be potentially available if need be.”

Murphy, 23, has drawn back into the lineup lately thanks to Ron Hainsey‘s deadline deal to Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily back in the teams plans.

The ‘Canes, you’ll recall, were reportedly shopping Murphy earlier this year, prior to sending him to the AHL on a conditioning stint. It seemed Peters and Francis were ready to move on from the former OHL Kitchener standout, despite calling him a “valuable” member of the blueline in November (and, prior to that, signing him to a two-year extension last summer).

With young defensemen like Hadyn Fleury and Roland McKeown in the system, Carolina sure looks as though it’ll move on from Murphy and allow him to start anew.

And Murphy might welcome it.

He called this year “frustrating,” explaining that “I want to be in the lineup every night.” While he said he likes being in Raleigh and would like to stay with the ‘Canes, he knows opportunities could be elsewhere — like Vegas, a team that would (presumably) like to snag a former first-round pick in his mid-2os (one on an affordable contract, no less.)

“If that’s what the future holds for me I’ll look forward to the opportunity,” Murphy said.

PHT Morning Skate: Joel Armia scored an amazing shorthanded goal you’ll have to see to believe

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Joel Armia has developed into a very useful player for the Winnipeg Jets, and on Tuesday night, he scored an incredible end-to-end goal that you won’t want to miss. He fought off one New Jersey Devil then got around two others before scoring this beautiful shorthanded goal. (Top)

–The Score breaks down the best “bang for your buck” contracts on each Canadian team. It’s not shocking to see Senators goalie Mike Condon on this list. The second-year netminder has been with three teams this season, but he’s come through in a big way for the Senators, and he only makes $575,000. (The Score)

–The ESPN Hockey writers put together a list of what they think the Vegas Golden Knights roster is going to look like after the expansion draft. Some well-known names like Andrew Cogliano, Jonas Brodin, Mikkel Boedker, Tomas Plekanec, Jonathan Marchessault, Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg all made the list. (ESPN)

–Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts” blog touched on some advice David Poile had for the Golden Knights now that the Oakland Raiders will be moving to Vegas. “You have to do your own thing. We created our ‘Predator Way.’ The Smashville idea and name. In-game entertainment fitting the market. Those things worked.” Friedman also wrote about Ken Hitchcock possibly returning to Dallas, and much more. (Sportsnet)

–Brampton Thunder forward Laura Stacey is the great-granddaughter of hall-of-fame defenseman King Clancy. Recently, Stacey decided she wanted to do a little digging into her great-grandfather’s career, and it really allowed her to get an appreciation for everything he accomplished. “Now I understand how hard he worked, how passionate and determined he was to be the best. Yes, it was a different era, but I can only imagine how hard he had to work to get where he was. As I get older, it makes it more special in that I know more the kind of guy he was.” (Canadian Press)

–The Montreal Canadiens have had some incredible defensemen come through their organization, but last night, Andrei Markov was able to reach an impressive milestone. By picking up an assist in a 4-1 win over Dallas, he tied Guy Lapointe for second in points by a defenseman in franchise history. Larry Robinson’s mark is pretty safe.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.