What’s Next For Connor Murphy?

The Chicago Blackhawks made a couple significant additions on the blue line this summer. Calvin deHaan, 28, and Olli Maatta, 25, will give the Blackhawks two more shot blockers, making the Blackhawks’ back end tougher to play against – when they’re healthy. Each has dealt with serious injuries – and, in Maatta’s case, illness – in the past two years that have limited their time on the ice.

But one defenseman who stepped up his game last year will be asked to take another step forward in the coming year.

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Connor Murphy, 26, was acquired before the 2017-18 season in the deal that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes. He averaged 19:29 on the ice last year. Only Duncan Keith and Erik Gustafsson skated a heavier workload last season. His 2:06 per game short-handed ranked second behind only Brent Seabrook on a historically bad penalty kill unit. The additions of Maatta and deHaan should help that unit, but the role Murphy is expected to play on that special teams unit will continue to be important.

Murphy appeared in only 52 games last year but finished second on the team behind Seabrook with 119 hits. He also blocked 91 shots and was credited with 14 takeaways.

Over the course of the 2018-19 season Murphy showed continuous improvement – and received increased confidence from coach Jeremy Colliton.

Chicago’s blue line will be crowded this year. The additions of deHaan and Maatta join Keith, Seabrook, Gustafsson, Murphy, Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom among players who saw frequent action last year. The Blackhawks also appear ready to give to prospect Adam Boqvist a long look in training camp as a potentially special puck-moving defenseman.

What makes this depth more interesting in the coming year is the contract statuses of the top seven players.

Murphy, deHaan and Maatta are all set to hit unrestricted free agency in 2022. However, the looming expansion draft with the new Seattle franchise will impact the Blackhawks somehow. Those three defensemen are making $3.85M (Murphy), $4,083,333 (Maatta) and $4.55M (deHaan), all reasonable deals for players of their potential caliber.

Gustafsson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer; Koekkoek will be a restricted free agent. Gustafsson’s $1.2M cap hit makes him one of the great bargains in the NHL, but the emergence of Boqvist could make him an asset the Blackhawks have to think twice about extending beyond this season – or keeping past the trade deadline.

Chicago has a good young pipeline coming as well. Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Dennis Gilbert, Lucas Carlsson and Chad Krys are all possible NHL roster players at some point in the next 2-3 years.

Murphy has now been in Chicago’s system for two seasons and has developed chemistry with the veterans on the roster. The new depth the team has will help Colliton continue to put players like Murphy in the best position to succeed. How Murphy performs in a more meaningful role will play a huge role in his future with the organization – and the hopes of a team that expects to return to the postseason.

23 thoughts on “What’s Next For Connor Murphy?

  • September 5, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I really think the Hawks should keep Murphy for another 3-4 years ..iff he fits with Colliton way to play the game then its a big plus for the TEAM .
    Murphy had a good year and he his a big strong player ..we need him badly . Many team would love to have him on their blue line.and still young ..

  • September 5, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Murphy doesnt get enough respect simply because everyone loved Hjalmarsson. The Hawks made a good trade their.

  • September 5, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Brent please retire, Keep Murphy. Shop Gustufsson if he is still producing around trade deadline and hope DeHaan and Matta work out. If so we are in for a fun season

  • September 5, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Murphy IMO was the Hawks most reliable D man in his own zone last year

    I expect him to continue his growth this year – I’m not sure why so many people seem to pencil in Gus with Keith – I’d like to try Murph with Keith and have Gus on the 3rd pair with Maatta

    And then you have Seabs with de Haan – each pair has a big bodied D man and a puck mover

    If it doesn’t work Colliton can always go back to Gus and Keith although if Gus is playing top pairing minutes all year IMO it’s gonna be a disappointing year. Hopefully he improves his defence (and he did slightly last year) but in no way should he be a top pair D man – he’s a good offensive D man and PP specialist but below average defensively

    That’s not what you want from a top pair guy

  • September 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Sell high on Gustofvson. He cant win a board battle, is a turnover machine, and basically a Nightmare on Defense. They need to make room for Boqvist and Mitchell. I doubt he’s going to have another 60 point season.
    I hope Conner Murphy gets a full season. He’s coming to the age 26 when NHL Defensemen are at their prime. I expect a little more offense from here this season, too

  • September 5, 2019 at 10:39 am

    The challenge (or call it a problem) with trying to rebuild/retool on the fly is that you don’t make moves that would be no-brainer type moves when doing a complete rebuild – such as trade Gustafsson when his value is as high as it is now. Doing things in half measures rarely works out to be the desired result. I realize the Hawks organization is a business and as such prefers to do a rebuild on the fly versus a total rebuild because the economics dictate that choice, but …

  • September 5, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Those times when player value and market need are highest are the times to make trades. The next best time is the TDL. Look for Stan to get another haul of draft choices (or more reclaimed 1st rounders.)

  • September 5, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    The biggest problem fdor the Hawks defense is ….Seabeook and everybody knows…
    I really love what he did for us in the pass but this is the pass.
    Now we would need him somewhe else with the kids in Rockford maybe or with the Hawks
    Hope he will retire t the end of the season
    And i also think its the last season with the hawks for Crawford.
    Or he will accept a backup job.

  • September 5, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Murphy can be a important cog in a shutdown role for a number of years. Wrap the reason i see Gus and Keith together to start is Keith is still the best guy on blueline and Gus’s role is pp and to drive the offense, which will be with 19 ans 88 if they are together. In a scenario where 19 matches up against opponents top lines and 88 on a offensive 2nd line again, splitting the makes more sense then. I hope we don”t see Seabrook Maatta pairing as there could be some long nights for them, so that too is another reason.

  • September 5, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    For those hoping for Seabrook’s retirement, please remember that his Cap-hit continues for the length of his contract. Basically that becomes a ton of “dead money.”

  • September 5, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Biggest problem for hawks is gm

  • September 5, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    I agree 100% with what HAWKSFAN just wrote: The biggest problem for the Hawks is the GM.

  • September 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Interesting to note that the Hawks leave Sept. 26 for Berlin with 5 pre-season games before they leave

    Perhaps they’ll have their final roster decided on before they leave – I suppose they could take a few extras but if they then get cut they can’t be sent to whatever team they’re going to play for right away

    For example would they send Boqvist to Rockford from Berlin or Prague before the season opener Oct. 4th – or keep him until after they return from Europe (so he’s missing games in RKF) then send him to RKF or just decide his fate before they leave for Europe

    In any event I expect we’ll have a pretty good if not definitive indication of the opening night roster by Sept. 26

  • September 5, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    For those that think the GM is the biggest problem the Hawks have…you’ve drunk yourself stupid tailgating from the bears game. Every GM has a few warts.

  • September 5, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I like 5 and when we decide who stays in a yr its between 65 15 6 5 44 56 and 50 or 40.
    The guys will decide this not salary cap. They are similar in that and its who works better and is ready to roll for a few bunch of yrs that will stay. The Lehner concept will go with these others.

  • September 5, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I wouldnt go by anything that happened D wise last yr because it was a flatlander. We know who is good at D and isint.

    Now is the time to show what you got kid.

  • September 5, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Not thinking 56 is a top pair D just what works better for what we had last yr. He got real good at D last yr from where he, was, at. Could do top 4 if based by solo. A 2nd pair of 2 56 is cool. We need a top pair Defensemen through trade or other and Boq. Buckaroo is not a top pair Defensemen, 2 or 3 sure. Mitchell and Beau are about the same as Buck. Thats why.

    Right now its about Matta and Haan being top 4 guys and where good for a run or two. Tehn were deeper and moar stacked with Horsemen and Dach.

  • September 6, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Bolstered all 3 areas fwds, dmen, Matta and Dehaan responsible in their own end and can log big pk mins. In goal Lehner an upgrade, ovverall improve pk and team defense. That was the big needs, top6 scoring and no. 1 pp were strengths last season and not a big concern. No.2 pp unit and depth scoring can be improved, guys like Dach, Boqvist, Kubalik etc could impact that, are they ready, definitely a talent upgrade if they are. A couple of spots on top 6 up for grabs but competent bodies are available, with whoever is slotted there.
    Faceoffs behind Toews still a question mark.

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Thought Smith was good. Carpenter is decent and so is Shaw, right?

  • September 6, 2019 at 10:24 am

    We might not have two studs like 19 16 and good like 26 80. Though we have a lot of guys around 50 now, where last 2 yrs we had a lot of 45 guys.

  • September 6, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Mo you could be right, was meaning more as no,2 fo guy behind 19. Kampf struggled there last season, not sure Shaw ever played that role, Carpenter was a right winger in Vegas. Smith could be solid but has looked better at wing, so who plays C is a question too. Reese Johnson looks like a future fit in tght role but may need Ahl time this season.

  • September 6, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Yeah I am just thinking faceoff not position. Not sure on the actual number, though those areas.

    Shaw was decent, 50?, in 2013 and other when center. Those guys we got this summer seemed to be decent at faceoffs even if playing RW and LW.

    When you think about other then M. Hands no one has been really good at 2nd line center faceoffs, usually because they are going against harder comp., then like 3rd line center does.

    Thats why 15 looked good at times, when hes was 3rd line and when at 2nd people complained about his faceoffs.

    Sharpy was like Shaw around 50, thats fine. We would like two though that are like 52.5-57 like Tazer 57-60. We had that with 19 16 and then added 11 26 80. Need another good one.

  • September 7, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Connor Murphy is a physical defenseman something the hawks have lacked for years he is intimidating

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