The NJ Devils made a trade that sent defenseman Michael Kapla to the Minnesota Wild Organization for Ryan Murphy it was announced last Thursday in a one for one transaction. Here is a closer look at what to expect from Murphy playing for the Binghamton Devils.
The notes on Murphy reads like this from Elite Prospects;
‘A fairly small defenseman with strong skating and impressive on-ice vision. Very creative with the puck. Reads the game well and really valuable on the man advantage. Has a quick release and excellent offensive skills.’
Listed at 5’ 11” 181 lbs, Murphy was a former 1st Round Draft pick by the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2011, and 12th overall. Murphy has played in 174 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes 2012-’17, and Minnesota Wild 2017-’19 recording 8g 34a. The 2015 AHL All-Star is also an AHL veteran with 172 AHL games under his belt (Charlotte Checkers 2012-’17, Iowa Wild 2017-’19) prior to coming over to the BDevils.
Going back to his OHL days, Murphy played four years (2009-’13) for the Kitchener Rangers where he recorded 53g, 167a for a total of 220 points in 228 games and a +33. On top of the regulation season, Murphy continued his offensive numbers with 12g, 45a in 53 games in the playoffs for the Rangers.
In his sophomore season, Murphy was the leading OHL defenseman in goals with 26 and added 53 assists for 79 points in 63 games, good enough for second in points by a defenseman.
Following the 2016-17 campaign, Murphy was traded to the Calgary Flames (along with goaltender Eddie Lack) who then bought out the remaining year on his contract. Murphy has then signed a new deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, 2017. The UFA is slated to earn $650,000/$275,000 this season in his final year of that two-year contract.
The 25-year-old native of Aurora, ONT brings a veteran presence to a hole voided when D Brian Strait was lost to a concussion on Oct. 27th after only ten games. He reminds me of another similar style defenseman in Patrick Mullen, who once played for the Binghamton Senators. Murphy recorded 3g, 12a in 35 games (+2) this season in Iowa while a +2 so far with no points in two games for Binghamton.
Murphy was paired up with Colton White last weekend on the top pairing and his steady offensive side looked poised with the puck and didn’t look nervous when breaking out of his zone at times compared to Kapla. It’s early, but I’ll be sure to follow along with his progress as the season transpires.
Adirondack Thunder’s Latest News by Tracey
The Adirondack Thunder are beginning to near the homestretch of their regular season schedule.
With 26 games to go, the Thunder are hanging onto second place in the ECHL’s North Division, five points behind first-place Newfoundland and five points ahead of third place Manchester.
Adirondack has had to manage without several of their regulars in the lineup. Going into a seven-game road trip that began in Maine on Saturday, the Thunder have 6 players—three forwards, three defensemen—out due to various injuries. The team recently lost another defenseman, Kevin Lough, to a call-up to the Chicago Wolves, where he is under an AHL contract. Another defenseman, Matias Cleland, was handed a two-game suspension after he was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head in Friday’s game against Reading.
Behind the Numbers
- 33 players have appeared in at least one game for Adirondack, including six goaltenders.
- Of those 33, 8 have also dressed for at least one game in Binghamton. That number surpasses last season’s total of 7.
- Adirondack ranks 5th in the ECHL with a 21.5% power play success rate and rank first with just one shorthanded goal allowed. The penalty kill ranks 17th at 82 percent, but have scored 8 shorthanded goals.
- Team goaltending ranks 8th in the league with a 2.91 goals against average, while the offense ranks 13th with 3.15 goals per game.
The hottest member of the Thunder right now? Devil camp invite Mike Szmatula.
The first-year forward has five goals in his last 3 games, including a pair of two-goal outings. He reached the 20-goal mark, which leads all Thunder skaters, in Saturday’s loss against Maine. He ranks third on the team in scoring with 34 points in 42 games. Representing the Thunder at the 2019 ECHL All-Star Classic in Toledo on January 21st, Szmatula helped the Eastern Conference win the 3-on-3 tournament with four points in five mini-games, including a game-winning goal. He is tied for 7th among ECHL rookies in points and leads all first-year skaters in goals.
John Edwardh (AHL contract) ranks second among Thunder skaters in points, with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) in 37 games. He notched his first professional hat trick on January 16th against Wheeling and has points in 8 of his last 9 games, including the last six in a row. He is tied for 6th among ECHL rookies in points and ranks third among first-year ECHL skaters in power play goals (6) and power play points (17).
Brian Ward (AHL contract) has 8 goals and 8 assists in 28 games.
Jake Linhart (camp invite) has 4 goals and 13 assists in 37 games.
Conor Riley (PTO) has 16 goals and 11 assists in 38 games and leads the Thunder in penalty minutes with 70. He has a goal and two assists in his last four appearances, and thanks to the recent injury situation, he has had to multi-task as a forward and a defenseman.
Alex Sakellaroupoulos (PTO) is 15-4-2 in 25 appearances between the pipes and ranks 8th among ECHL goaltender in goals-against average (2.35). He is 9-1 in his last 10 starts, including two shutouts.
Struggles in Net for Evan Cormier
After a strong showing in Binghamton, goaltender Evan Cormier was reassigned to the Thunder on January 24th to get some playing time while Cory Schneider rehabbed in the AHL. Unfortunately, those results have not translated into success at the ECHL level.
In three appearances for the Thunder, Cormier is 0-3-0 with a 5.62 goals against average and a .829 save percentage.
In his first start against Worcester on January 25th, he stopped 31 of 34 shots, but the Thunder were unable to create any offense behind him, only managing two third period goals in a 4-2 loss. Cormier had a chance to redeem himself the next night in Worcester but was yanked in favor of Sakellaroupoulos after giving up four goals on seven shots in a span of 8:54 in the first period of an eventual 5-1 loss to the Railers.
After Sakellaroupoulos got the start in the next three games—all Thunder wins—Cormier got the start on Saturday in Maine against the Mariners, and again he struggled in net. He stopped 24 of 29 shots in a 5-3 loss.
Is it the competition? Cormier faced two teams that are out of a playoff spot but have .500 or better records. The same lineup that played in front of Sakellaroupoulos played in front of him, could it be the defense on a given night? Is it adjusting to a different league?
Cormier will be tested on this upcoming road trip, as the Thunder head south this week to Florida to face the ECHL’s best team, the Everblades, who eliminated Adirondack in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Thanks Tracey Lake and thanks for reading Devils’ fans!