No significant player has more riding on the world under-18s and, in particular, the NHL combine than the teenager at the very bottom of NHL Central Scouting Service's mid-term rankings. Two-hundred and ten players are ranked ahead of Connor Murphy. Dozens of kids, some of them in the top 100, won't get drafted. There might not be twenty kids in this draft class who have more talent than Murphy -- maybe not even ten.
Murphy has pro size at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He has bloodlines: His father, Gord, was a 14-year NHLer and these days is an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers. Connor Murphy established his first-round credentials at the USA Hockey 17-Select Camp last summer, which he just tore up. On the basis of that performance he was named captain of the USA team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial under-18 tournament last summer and was likely the most impressive prospect on a team that lost to Canada 1-0 in the final. In August you'd have bet on him a top-20 pick.
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