GLENDALE – Defenseman Connor Murphy turned many heads last week at the Coyotes Prospect Development Camp.
Murphy, whom Phoenix selected 20th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, displayed all the skills and presence of a first-round draft pick at the camp, which featured 36 prospects. It was an impressive display considering Murphy suffered a serious knee injury last January late in the gold medal game of the IIHF World Junior Championship, which he and Team USA won.
“He moved very well and showed a lot of poise and range,” Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving said of Murphy after the three-day camp at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. “He’s battled some injuries the last couple years and ultimately we think he’s a good prospect. The key now is for him to stay healthy. He needs to get some rounds on his scorecard, if you will.”
In addition to two knee surgeries, Murphy also had to recently overcome a stress fracture in his back. He played in only 33 of 68 games for the Sarnia Sting last season. The year before that he played in just 35.
“He’s stopped and started the last couple of years because of injuries and that’s difficult to do,” Treliving said. “The good news is he’s dealt with the adversity unbelievably. He has a great attitude and he’s doing everything he can do to control what he can control. Now it’s just a matter of training and being as fit as he can for training camp in September and going from there.”
Murphy said he enjoyed the prospect camp and being able to show what he can do when at 100 percent. Next up is more off-season training with Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Tommy Powers.
“It’s great to be able to have a full summer of being healthy,” Murphy said. “It’s tough missing portions of the year, but it just makes you realize how hard you have to work.”
Murphy, of course, is the son of Gord Murphy, a former NHL defenseman and current assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
“I’m really fortunate to have him, an NHL coach at that level, to know what I need to execute and get better at to make it here (in the NHL),” Murphy said.
Treliving said it’s obvious that Murphy comes from an NHL family.
“He’s an extremely intelligent player,” Treliving said. “He’s grown up in the environment and he plays with sort of a coach’s mind on the ice. He thinks the game extremely well.”
With his junior career over, the Coyotes are eager to see how Murphy will adapt to the pro game in 2013-14.
“The message we left him with after prospect camp was for him to make the next six or seven weeks (before training camp) count in terms of training,” Treliving said. “…He’s turning pro this year but he needs to play catch up a little bit because he doesn’t have the games played in his bank yet. It will be good to see him at a game pace and in practice with pros come the fall.”
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