GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Saying Connor Murphy has been unlucky the past few seasons would be a major understatement.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is considered one of the best defense prospects in the Phoenix Coyotes' system, but a series of back issues and a knee injury has seen him play about 80 games over three seasons.
This season, however, Murphy has been healthy, playing 33 (of 34) games for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. And with that health, he's showing why the Coyotes used the 20th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft on him -- he has six goals and 12 assists, and his plus-15 rating is second on the team.
"It's been a lot of fun like that," Murphy told NHL.com. "I'm really enjoying it. It's great to be able to contribute to my team every night, work on things and develop. I'm getting good feedback from my coaches, and Phoenix and my dad [Florida Panthers assistant coach Gord Murphy]. It's just being able to have fun and work hard and getting toward my goals."
Murphy is one game shy of the 35 he played all of last season, when he missed three months with a knee injury suffered at USA Hockey's 2011 summer junior evaluation camp when he collided with goalie John Gibson.
And the back problems that limited him for the majority of two seasons appears to be a thing of the past, as well.
"It's awesome," he said. "It's almost being able to live the dream and not worry about the aches and pains. And even when they do, it happens and you don't worry about it. I'm really enjoying it."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK