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Murphy leads OHL defenders

by Mike G. Morreale
Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy admits he used to model his game after defenseman Bryan McCabe.

"But (McCabe) has gotten a little older know, so I've moved on to Mike Green," he admits. Still, the Markham, Ont. native has also listed San Jose's Dan Boyle as his favorite NHL player.

Whatever the case may be, Murphy is doing a fine job of making a name for himself in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League. He leads all defensemen in goals (13), assists (26) and points (39) while compiling an angelic-like 8 penalty minutes in 24 contests. He also sports a plus-5 rating.

It was quite a learning experience in 2009-10 for Murphy, who is No. 8 on the NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ratings for OHL players. Murphy was cut from Canada's Under-18 team that won a third straight gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in Slovakia and the Czech Republic last August. He felt the team just wasn't in need of an offensive-defenseman.

"Coming in, I was pretty scared of all the hazing I guess, but in Kitchener, everyone was just great to me," Murphy recalled. "All the vets treated me like just another player and I just loved being there. It's a great organization."

Murphy recorded 17 points, including 5 goals, in 20 games to help the Rangers reach the semifinals of the OHL tournament last season -- taking eventual champ Windsor to the limit. He notched 6 goals and 39 points in 62 regular-season games.

"Going into the playoffs, only four or five players on the team had playoff experience," Murphy said. "So my coach told us, 'get ready for the next year.' Going that deep in the playoffs, a bunch of us got playoff experience, it was just great for us."

The trick for Murphy to have an even greater impression on scouts heading into the 2001 Entry Draft will be to play well enough so that people forget about his diminutive frame (5-foot-10 1/2, 176 pounds). He has the capability, too, with his smarts and quickness in tight spaces.

"I'm an offensive defenseman," Murphy said. "I love to handle the puck. I like to play defense, but I would rather be in the offensive zone, I love points."

Said Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: "Ryan has real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He's going to have to concentrate on making good plays. He got himself into trouble making those high-risk plays, but that's what they used to say about (Montreal rookie) P.K. Subban. He's at least as good a skater as Subban."

Murphy, Kitchener's first round selection (third overall) in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, was invited to Team Canada's summer selection camp in July.

He was surrounded by other draft-eligible prospects on the White Team, including Dougie Hamilton of Niagara and Duncan Siemens of Saskatoon (WHL). Hamilton is rated No. 3 on Central Scouting's OHL list and Siemens No. 8 on the Western Hockey League list.
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