Minnesota Wild: 2018-19 Season Preview of Ryan Murphy

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 8: Ryan Murphy #6 of the Minnesota Wild releases a shot during the game against the Anaheim Ducks on December 8, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 8: Ryan Murphy #6 of the Minnesota Wild releases a shot during the game against the Anaheim Ducks on December 8, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Wild signed defensemen Ryan Murphy to a new 1 year deal this summer. We’ve got less than a week until the first (official) preseason game starts, so we’re taking a look at the man wearing sweater number 6.

Ryan Murphy had some ups and some downs in his first year as a member of the Minnesota Wild. He signed a new 2-way contract this summer, to allow being sent between Minnesota and Iowa without restriction, so he may be accepting his role with the team.


Murphy was a highly sought after 1st round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, going 12th Overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. It wasn’t his first time being drafted high either, as he went 3rd overall in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) junior draft.

His first year in Kitchener, he had 39 points and was the top scoring rookie defensemen in the OHL for the year. In his second year, he broke out, recording 26 goals and 79 points to finish second among all defensemen in the OHL which led to his high NHL Draft position.

His career seems to have peaked there, however, and has been going downhill ever since. His third year with Kitchener he was named assistant captain but the season was shortened by a concussion in November. When he returned he was still one of the best D in the OHL, but it was the start of his fall.

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He played his final junior season in Kitchener as team captain, but had a mediocre year by statistical expectations. In February he received a 4 game tryout in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he went scoreless with a -4, but ended up reassigned to the Charlotte in the AHL.

Murphy has struggled with his turn pro, and appears stuck in that middle ground between the AHL and NHL. He consistently has been around 1 point per 2 games in the AHL, but has never amounted to more than 13 points in an NHL year.

After 4 lacklustre seasons in the Hurricanes system, Murphy was traded to the Calgary Flames in a deal including Eddie Lack, but the Flames only wanted Lack and took Murphy as a compromise. They immediately bought out the remainder of Murphy’s contract and left him as a 24 year old unrestricted free agent.

The Minnesota Wild took a chance on him 3 days after the buyout, signing him to a 1 year deal to add depth to their defensive prospect pool. Murphy would clear waivers and start the year in Iowa, but got his chance in November due to injuries on the Wild back end.

He would perform well in Jared Spurgeon‘s absence, recording 2 points in 9 games with a +4 rating before being reassigned to Iowa. Murphy was recalled to end the year after another injury to Spurgeon, and got another 3 points in 12 games with a +4 rating again.

He was with the team through the playoffs, but was only inserted into the lineup for Game 5 as an attempt to shake up the team. Unfortunately, Game 5 was 5-0 loss to Winnipeg, but Murphy finished the game with an Even +/- in over 16 minutes of ice time. The team performance was bad overall, but Murphy was not a glaring weakness against the high-flying Jets.

Season Preview

Murphy looks to be set for another season in the AHL with the Minnesota Wild, but his pro experience and high upside could make him an early call-up if a trade or early season injury takes away an offensive defenseman.

The 2-way deal allows the Wild some leniency with sending Murphy back and forth up I-35, while also giving them a young NHL veteran with a ton of scoring potential to call on from the minors.

Now 7 years after being drafted as a high first round prospect, the window for Murphy to break out in the NHL is closing quickly. But there is still a use for a 3rd pairing defender who can be defensively responsible and provide a 2nd power play threat from the blueline.

Murphy’s +8 plus/minus last season could actually be taken as a positive sign for his career advancement, and may be why he was given another shot to crack the Wild lineup this fall. It is the first time he has finished with a positive rating in all of his NHL seasons, and perhaps he may yet develop into a defensive D.

On top of that, 5 points in 21 games in relief of a player like Jared Spurgeon is equivalent to what we could ask from most prospects playing in the AHL. For comparison, Nick Seeler had 4 points in 22 games, and Gustav Olofsson had 8 points in 41 games last year.

This season, he is in a deeper battle for playing time as I have mentioned among many of the season previews. He should expect the entire season to be spent in Iowa, and will be lucky to see even 10 games in the NHL. It is his chance to play in some stability and finally find the player he was in juniors to earn a chance at an NHL contract next year.

Next. Season Preview of Mikko Koivu. dark

He’s still only 25 years old, and clearly the potential is there, but Murphy hasn’t seemed to be the same player since the concussion in juniors. Hopefully he can find a way to turn it around, for his own sake, or he will soon find himself in Europe, Russia, or out of hockey entirely.