Murphy hoping to follow in Skinner's footsteps

For Ryan Murphy, summer is no time for rest. The 18-year-old defenseman, taken by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 12th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, is using his offseason as a catalyst for making the NHL as soon as possible.

Part of that was attending the Hurricanes' conditioning camp earlier this month.

"It was what I expected," said Murphy. "I heard it was going to be a tough four days and it was. We had a lot of good workouts. We had a lot of fun as well. They killed us but it was a learning experience."

A learning experience Murphy hopes will lead him down the same path as a former teammate.

Murphy became the second Kitchener Ranger taken in the first round by Carolina in as many years. In 2010, Jeff Skinner was taken seventh by Carolina and went on to win the 2011 Calder Memorial Trophy as the League's top rookie, leading all first-year players last season with 63 points.

"He had been really successful this year and I hope I follow in his footsteps," said Murphy.

Murphy paid attention to how his former OHL teammate performed his first NHL season.

"They did such a good job in making Jeff into a complete hockey player," said Murphy. "Not to say he wasn't in Kitchener, but they made him into a better hockey player there in Carolina."

This past season with Kitchener, Murphy's offensive abilities shined, as his 79 points was second among OHL defensemen. Murphy credits self-confidence and his coaches for the 40-point improvement over 2009-10, his first season in the league.

"Going into my second year I guess I was a little more confident and was a little more confident with the puck in the decisions that I made," Murphy said. "My coaches told me I needed to shoot more. I did what they said, I shot a lot more." As a result of Murphy shooting more, he scored 26 goals last season, 20 more than the previous season.

As for this season, could Murphy follow Skinner right to the NHL at age 18?

"They haven't said to me that I won't be playing on their team next year," he said, "but they haven't said I'm going to be on the team yet."

Murphy feels if he continues to put on weight as a result of his off-season training -- he's listed at 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds -- he'll be given every opportunity at training camp to make the Hurricanes.

"I'm a pretty confident kid so I'd like to say I can play in the NHL next year given the right work in the off-season," said Murphy. "I think I can make the step into the NHL next year."