SAINT PAUL, Minn. –
After multiple pre-draft meetings with the Coyotes, defenseman Connor Murphy
liked his chances of being selected by Phoenix in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Then, with the Coyotes on the clock for the 20th overall pick at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday night, Murphy noticed he was making eye contact with some of those seated at the team’s draft table. Moments later, he was on the stage wearing a Coyotes sweater with his arms around General Manager Don Maloney and Assistant G.M. Brad Treliving.
|Photo by Associated Press. |
“It’s just amazing,” Murphy said in an interview just after the Coyotes claimed him. “It’s been a major goal of mine to be drafted into the NHL and I couldn’t be happier to be part of this organization.”
One of the face-to-face meetings took place at the team’s headquarters in Glendale. It was during this day-and-a-half visit that Murphy, who lives in Dublin, Ohio, toured Jobing.com Arena and “fell in love with the place.”
That visit also was the setting in which the Coyotes checked out the status of a back injury that limited Murphy to just 14 games in 2010-11 with the United States National U-18 Team.
“One of the biggest parts of my meetings, with all the teams, was clarifying how the injury is now cleared and how it’s not going to affect me in the future,” Murphy said.
Maloney said the Coyotes consider Murphy’s injury a “non-factor” and that they felt lucky he was available 20 picks into the draft.
|Photo by Getty Images. |
"He’s got great bloodlines and a very high hockey IQ,” Maloney said “…We felt he was the best player on the board when our turn came around and we’re very excited to have him join our organization.”Connor Murphy
is the son of Gord Murphy, an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers who played 14 NHL seasons.
“He’s played the biggest part in what I’ve become as a hockey player,” Murphy said of his dad. “Growing up, he was my biggest coach and he was always there watching my games when he could and giving me advice. Both of my parents have been great for me my whole life.”
Gord Murphy recalls how his son enjoyed competing at a young age.
“He wanted to play (hockey) games,” Gord Murphy said. “He didn’t like all the other just-learn-to-skate stuff. He really got into it at age seven, and started playing travel hockey competitively at age 10. He had to come up through some small-market areas in Florida, Atlanta and then Columbus, Ohio... but you could see he had that passion and he had the desire. All he wanted to do was play hockey. ”
Murphy led all U.S. defensemen with three goals and a plus-seven rating in six games at the 2011 IIHF U-18 World Championship. He was named Player of the Game after scoring the gold-medal winning overtime goal vs. Sweden.
NHL Central Scouting ranked him 25th in its final assessment of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, and eighth among defensemen.
Murphy, 18, will be back in Glendale in early July with the team’s other draft picks for its annual camp for prospects. After that, he plans to begin his college career at Miami University in Ohio in the fall. It is there that he hopes to develop his game more thoroughly, and mature physically.
“I need to work on my overall strength and my quickness,” Murphy said when asked what he plans to focus on this summer and beyond in his quest to reach the NHL. “My first few steps need to be a lot faster for the next level.”