Connor Murphy heads to the Windy City after four arduous years with the lowly Coyotes. Despite his status as 2011's first-round (20th overall) draft choice, the Boston native has managed a mere 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists) and an equally uninspiring minus-30 rating over 258 career contests. However, his moving to a Blackhawks team that ranked in the top half in goals for and against last year points to a potential bounce-back campaign in 2017-18.
Murphy was acquired from the Coyotes on Friday -- along with Laurent Dauphin -- in exchange for Niklas Hjalmarsson. Murphy carries a cap hit of $3.85 million compared to Hjalmarsson's $4.1 million, so this move won't increase the Blackhawks' cap space. The 24-year-old Murphy is six years younger, which is likely part of the impetus for this swap. Selected 20th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, the Ohio native has put up 17 points in back-to-back seasons and is still looking to break through the 20-point threshold. The blueliner figures to see an uptick in ice time from his 19:11 per game last year and take on a bigger role with the man advantage.
Murphy will be the captain for the US team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. The defenseman notched a modest 17 points in 78 games, matching last year's performance in the scoring department. However, he did reach a new career high in hits with 201, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do on the world stage with the Americans.
Murphy picked up an assist and scored shorthanded into an empty net Tuesday against Tampa Bay. This was just his second multi-point game of the year; the other one was Oct. 18. Murphy's hits and blocked shots play in certain fantasy formats, but he's obviously not much of a scorer. That said, he has pedigree as 2011's No. 20 pick, so if he continues developing, perhaps we'll see Murphy increase his offensive output in his later 20s.
Murphy has 33 hits and 25 blocked shots over his past 15 games. The 23-year-old defenseman also has a goal, six points and a plus-3 rating over that 15-game stretch, so Murphy is currently moving the fantasy needle in deep seasonal leagues. While no one should confuse Murphy with a go-to option, if you're searching for peripheral statistical coverage from the blue line, he is a potential short-term fit.
Murphy's first goal in 51 games was the overtime-winner Saturday against Pittsburgh. It was a clutch play from Murphy, who beat Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury with a beautiful wrist shot from the faceoff circle with 21.8 seconds left in extra time. Murphy doesn't log big minute's on the team's third defensive pairing and isn't used on the power play, so he isn't a great fantasy option. His 12 points make him somewhat relevant in very deep leagues, but the 23-year-old isn't known for his offense and Arizona is struggling, so it's best to steer clear.
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