Tag: first round picks

2011 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

Carolina signs 2011 first round pick Ryan Murphy

Last year, Calder Trophy winner-to-be Jeff Skinner impressed enough to make the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster right out of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. If offensive defenseman Ryan Murphy hopes to follow in Skinner’s footsteps, he’ll need to be under contract, so it’s great news for both sides that they came to terms on an entry-level deal today.

Murphy was the 12th overall pick of this year’s draft and Carolina’s top pick overall. NHL.com reports that Murphy’s deal is worth $832,500 per season with a $277,500 signing bonus.

If Murphy doesn’t make the jump to the NHL, he’ll return to the junior hockey level, where he’s been an impressive scorer from the blueline. Here’s a little bit more about Murphy’s successes and how the Hurricanes feel about his future – whether that manifests itself sooner than usual or if he understandably takes longer than Skinner to make the leap.

“Ryan is a gifted offensive defenseman,” [Hurricanes GM Jim] Rutherford said. “He skates extremely well and is dynamic with the puck. He put up very impressive numbers as a 17-year-old in the OHL, and he’s put himself in a position to push for a spot on the NHL level.”

Murphy has played two seasons for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. He ranked second among all OHL defenseman last season with 79 points in 63 games. His 26 goals led all OHL blueliners and were second among all defensemen across Canada’s three major junior hockey leagues. His 53 assists were second among defensemen in the OHL.

Murphy has some international acclaim as well. He was named the top defensemen at the 2011 IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship earlier this year when he led Team Canada with 13 points in seven games.

The Hurricanes play an attacking system, so Murphy could be a great fit whenever he shows that he’s ready for the rigors of the NHL. Carolina would certainly be delighted if he eventually helps them improve a power play that has earned a league-leading amount of opportunities since the lockout but hasn’t produced the results you’d expect from all those chances. He’ll have to prove himself in training camp and possibly preseason games to have a chance to make an immediate impact, though.

Chew on this: All 30 NHL teams passed on drafting Game 2 hero Alex Burrows

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

As much as any other NHL team, Vancouver Canucks boast a roster brimming with high-end draft picks. More than half of their roster was drafted in either the first or second round. Just glance at this list to see how heavy this club really is in premier prospects.

First rounders

Drafted by Vancouver:
Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin (2nd and 3rd overall, 1999)
Ryan Kesler (23rd, 2003)
Cory Schneider (26th, 2004)

Drafted by other teams:
Roberto Luongo (4th overall, by New York Islanders in 1997)
Dan Hamhuis (12th, by Nashville Predators in 2002)
Keith Ballard (11th, by Buffalo Sabres in 2002)
Manny Malhotra (7th, by New York Rangers in 1998)
Chris Higgins (14th, by Montreal Canadines in 2002)
Raffi Torres (5th, by New York Islanders in 2000)
Jeff Tambellini (27th, by Los Angeles Kings in 2003)

Second rounders

Drafted by Vancouver:
Mason Raymond (51st, 2005)

Drafted by other teams:
Maxim Lapierre (61st by Montreal Canadiens in 2003)
Victor Oreskovich (55th by Colorado Avalanche in 2004)

Yet amid all those premium picks, the one guy on their NHL-level roster who didn’t get drafted at all ended up being the hero of Game 2. Alex Burrows scratched, clawed – and yes – nibbled his way to the NHL after bouncing around the ECHL and AHL from 2002-03 to 2005-06, when he solidified his place with the Canucks.

Now, at 30 years old, Burrows is a fantastic compliment to the Sedin twins on what might be the best first line in the NHL. To the dismay of many Boston Bruins fans, Burrows scored two goals (including that stunning OT game-winner) and one assist in Vancouver’s Game 2 win.

It’s not as if he just enjoyed one signature performance, either. Burrows has 17 points in 20 playoff games, including that series-winning overtime goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of their first round series. He scored 26 goals in 2010-11, 35 in 09-10 and 28 in 08-09. He combines that goal-scoring acumen with plenty of grit and an agitating presence, making him one of the better power forwards in the league.

Scouts aren’t the only people who overlooked his talents, either. Whoever negotiated on Burrows’ behalf in 2009 didn’t do a great job of foreseeing his value considering his bargain four-year, $8 million contract. With Zach Parise’s $3.1 million annual salary cap hit ready to expire in July, it’s quite possible that Burrows’ contract ranks as the league’s best value (not counting entry-level deals).

His contract expires after the 2012-13 season, which means that the Canucks will receive two more seasons of Burrows’ great play at that enviable $2 million per year rate. General managers and scouts from around the NHL must feel foolish for overlooking Burrows all those years ago, yet now their strongest feeling is probably jealousy.