New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils: Adam Larsson or Bust? Not So Fast.

June 23, 2011
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The New Jersey Devils have a few issues that need to be addressed before the start of the 2011-12 season and the biggest one may be the need for a puck-moving defenseman.

The Devils’ roller-coaster season, which saw them get off to one of the worst starts in franchise history, then go on a winning streak that put them back into playoff contention before finally falling short of the playoffs, took another turn upwards when they beat the odds and won the 2011 NHL Draft lottery and were awarded the fourth overall pick.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils

Many experts are predicting that, if he’s there at number four, Adam Larsson, the 6’3″, 200 lb. defenseman from Sweden will likely be the Devils’ choice.

There are others that are suggesting the Devils will address another need and draft a center, perhaps a player like Jonathan Huberdeau.

I’ve been watching the Devils, and their drafts, for many years now. The team loves to make trades, move up to get a guy they want, or move down when they think they can grab a guy later on. ..and that is the feeling I get once again this year.

There is one player that I feel would fit in perfectly with the Devils and he would certainly be available at number four. I haven’t seen many mock drafts that have suggested the Devils would select him. Most have him going in the 9-12 range. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team traded down a few spots and grabbed him a bit later.

The player I am talking about is the ninth ranked skater in North America. He’s a 5’10″, 166 lb. defenseman from Kitchner of the OHL. His name is Ryan Murphy.

Murphy has been describes as possibly having “the most pure skill in the draft after projected top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.” That’s quite a compliment, especially for a defenseman.

His scouting reports, from NHL.com, speak just as highly about him:

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
“Ryan’s work on the power play is outstanding, He sees the ice very well and is creative, [has] excellent passing ability and a great shot that he gets through to the net. (He’s) also an excellent all-round skater. He’s got real good mobility. He’s a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he’s going to have to concentrate on making good plays.”

Kitchener Rangers head coach Steve Spott
“He’s like no one else in this league. You can’t get to him, you can’t hit him. He’s a kid that’s slippery, his vision is second to none, his hockey sense is second to none. He can skate and he’s got a rocket. He’s got all the intangibles to be an all-star not only in this league, but the National Hockey League.”

A few things stand out there. First, his ability on the power play, something the Devils desperately need. Secondly, he’s a scoring threat from the blue line, another skill the team is in need of.

Murphy’s numbers last season with the Kitchner Rangers were impressive: 63 GP – 26g – 53a  – 79pts   36PIM

Here is his NHLN Online video profile:

Will Murphy turn out to be a better player than Larsson? Probably not. But the Devils need players and/or picks. Moving down a few spots to grab either of those, plus get a player of Murphy’s ability, is something the Devils would certainly be willing to do.

While I, like most others, would like to see Larsson pulling the red and black over his head tomorrow night, I might enjoy seeing Murphy do it just a little bit more.

4 Comments

  1. NO! No! No! No! No! No!

    We have a chance at one of the top 4-5 players in the draft. Murphy is waaaay undersized and there are loads of questions if he can make it in the NHL. Why would we take a chance on a guy who will not make this team for 3 years, at least (see Ryan Ellis) and carries with him that much risk? there is a reason why, despite his talent, he is slated for 8-10 and in my mind will actually drop even further.

    he has a small frame, no bulk nor room to bulk up, tested physically weak at the combine, has no desire to play any form of defense, and at best is going to be a power play specialist.

    i;’m not a Hamilton fan either but I’d take him 99 times in a row over Murphy. I don’t get the fascination with him. Yes we need a PMD but this is not the guy who will help us. Merrill will be here before Murphy would and he’s still a year or 2 away.

    We’re walking away with Larsson, Huberdeau, Landeskog, or, my bet – Couturier.

    End of discussion….

  2. My point is, seeing as the Devils need more than just one player to help this team, their best bet is to trade down, get a top-rated, puck moving d-man, who is a power play specialist (which they sorely need), and get something else on top of that.

    Is he the best d-man available? No way. But is he one of the most skilled players in the draft? Absolutely. The Devils have plenty of defenseman who play D…pretty much all of them (no matter how poorly).

    Don’t get me wrong… if they stay at 4 and draft Larsson (or one of the other guys), that’s the right move. I just think moving down a few spots, getting something in return and still getting a guy like Murphy might benefit them even more.

    Thanks for the comment, Mark!

  3. I’d rather have one A+ prospect than 2 B rated guys with later picks. Murphy is definitely high risk but I’d say medium reward as he’ll never be a top pairing d-man. I’d rather get a solid 2nd line center in Couturier.

    Why water down the pick only to get a 2nd rounder? 2nd rounders have like a 25% success rate of playing more then 25 game sin the NHL. I do have faith in Conte and company but why chance it.

    I’f we want a PMD so badly, we could move the #4 pick to Ottawa for David Rundblad, who is ready for the NHL this year, and a mid-2nd rounder. I’d be more in favor of doing that than drafting Murphy.

    • I think there’s risk with any pick, no matter what number/round it is. There are very few “can’t miss” prospects, and even some of those “miss.” There’s one thing that you can’t teach though, and that’s pure skill. Again, I’m not saying Murphy should be THE pick, but I think if they can collect assets and still get a guy like that, I’d do it. I also agree that getting Rundblad would be a better move, if they could pull that off.

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