Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers
Defense, 5'11" 160 lbs
I got a call from a friend and he said to me “you’ve got to come see this kid play in Newmarket.” I saw this 15 year old kid skate like the wind, creating chances every time he was on the ice. His name: Ryan Murphy. He was small and not your typical defenseman. But his skating and puck handling were beyond his years.
That summer brought the OHL priority draft and Murphy went 3rd overall. In his rookie season, he turned a lot of heads and gathered a lot of attention. At the same age, I put him ahead of another Ryan, Windsor Spitfires star defenseman Ryan Ellis, in terms of development.
His smooth, lightning fast skating, and superior stick handling and playmaking ability, remind me of Paul Coffey. Ranger fans have made comparisons to Bobby Orr, but I’m hesitant to compare anyone to the greatest player to ever play the game. The knock against him will always be his size. But don’t close your eyes or blink. He’s capable of throwing a tremendous hip check at anytime, and most likely when you least expect it. He makes up for his physical size in the defensive zone with strong positioning and anticipation. He seems to know where the puck is going to go even before the opposing player has an idea where he is going to send it.
He had a tremendous rookie season for the Rangers. In 62 regular season games he scored 6 goals and added 33 assists with 22 PIM. In 20 playoff games, he added 5 goals and 12 assists along with 16 PIM. His ability to control a game was never more evident than in game 1 of the Windsor/Kitchener series where he twice gave the Rangers the lead en route to winning game one of that series.
Murphy will play a major role for the Rangers next year and he will continue to improve and produce at an even greater pace than this past season. IMO, his offensive abilities will overwhelmingly make up for any defensive lapses and plenty of NHL teams will overlook that because of the need for a fast PMD and PP quarterback who’s capable of putting up points and making his team mates better. For that reason, he will be a 1st round pick, and a high one. He has the potential to exceed the top 3 or 4 d-men in the 2010 draft.