Jim Rutherford has locked up the Canes 2011 first round pick Ryan Murphy on a three year, entry-level contract. It will pay him $832,500 per season at the NHL level and $70,000 per season at the minor league level and he also received a $277,500 signing bonus according to the Hurricanes web site.
It's a very good deal for someone with Murphy's upside and I have to think his performance at the Traverse City tournament is what helped him earn this deal. Him and other young defenseman Justin Faulk were Carolina's most impressive players in that tournament and it wasn't even close. The question is when can we expect Murphy in the NHL? My guess is not for another year or two. Murphy was outstanding in the Traverse tournament but he will have to really blow people away in training camp to earn a spot on the big club with the defense corps pretty much set as it is.
Since Murphy is only 18, he can either make the team out of camp or be sent back to Kitchener and I'm thinking the latter is the better option. He still has some work to do in his own zone and giving him another season or two in Kitchener should help him develop his all-around game a little more. As of providing offense from the blue line is his best asset and with Kaberle signed, Pitkanen retained and another puck-mover in Jamie McBain on the roster, I'm not sure where Murphy will fit. It gets harder to find a spot for him if Justin Faulk (who was equally impressive) makes the team.
He'll probably be on the roster in another year or two when Pitkanen and Kaberle are heading toward the end of their new contracts. It's pretty interesting got think about how good Carolina's defense corps will look in another three years once Murphy and Faulk are full-time players. Tons of offensive potential there and a potential shutdown defenseman in Brian Dumoulin who could be with the Canes sooner than most think. If the team can add another shutdown guy into the prospect pool then the Canes blue-line should be completely revamped over the next few years.