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.
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.