Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Murphy is in his second full season with the organization and getting used to the shuttle service between Carolina and Charlotte.
He began this season, like last, with the Hurricanes, but once again has seen time in the American Hockey League with the Checkers.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster… getting the demotion and going down and playing in Charlotte,” Murphy told PHT this week. “But I took it as an opportunity to work hard and get back up here.
“The last 10 games since I’ve been (in the NHL) have been good to me.”
Murphy made the Canes’ opening day roster last season out of training camp and appeared in 48 games with Carolina recording 12 points, 10 penalty minutes and a minus-9 rating while averaging 18:17 in ice time a night. Near the midway mark of the season the Canes sent Murphy to the AHL where he appeared in 22 games scoring three goals and 22 points to go along with a plus-7 rating.
Murphy isn’t frustrated at the notion of going through a similar process this season.
“I think I was a little spoiled last year,” he said. “I never got a taste of the American league, I went straight to the NHL (from junior) and getting that demotion just over the halfway mark, near the Olympic break, was a bit upsetting for me, but then again, it was an opportunity for me to go down and try to work hard to get back up.”
A year older, Murphy, 21, better understands the situation this season.
“I know how it goes, only the elite, very elite defensemen can make it as an 18, 19, 20-year-old, that’s a tough thing to do,” he said. “There’s a lot of mature hockey players out here and I’m just trying to do my best to have good body positioning and get stronger every day.”
Murphy has spent 25 games this season with the Checkers collecting 17 assists, 10 penalty minutes and a minus-7 rating. He’s had the added help of retired NHL defenseman Steve Smith, who joined the Hurricanes coaching staff in the offseason.
“Any time he tells you something about the defensive zone, you definitely want to apply it to your game,” said Muprhy. “He’s obviously a man that’s played a lot of games in this league. Although our games aren’t exactly the same, he still knows a lot and anytime he tells you anything, you really want to emphasize putting it into your game.”
Now in his second full season as a professional, Murphy understands what he needs to do to stick at the NHL level.
“Take care of my own zone first and after that, let my offensive ability take over, but defense first for sure,” he said.
Murphy is currently in the AHL and will represent the Checkers at the AHL All-Star Classic, but the expectation is he’ll return to Carolina following the All-Star break.