The Carolina Hurricanes pulled a surprise out of their hat upon returning home from their two-week road trip on Tuesday, sending forward Brody Sutter and defenseman Ryan Murphy to the AHL Charlotte Checkers.
Yes, you read that right: Ryan Murphy has been sent to Charlotte, and not on a conditioning assignment.
Sutter's reassignment may be a sign that Nathan Gerbe, who suffered a lower-body injury in the first game of the road trip against the Rangers and was out of commission for the Canadian swing, is ready to return on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. He was a late callup to the road trip, just to have an extra body around, and with the Canes set to play six of their next nine at PNC Arena it was a no-brainer to send him back to the Checkers, who have been strapped with roster issues of their own owing to the Canes' raiding of their roster to cover injuries at the NHL level.
Murphy's demotion, though, is a bit of a surprise, although not a complete shock given his shaky play over the first part of this season. He's played in six of the Canes' first eight games this year, finding himself a healthy scratch most recently on Friday night in Edmonton. Sending Murphy to Charlotte helps the Checkers, for sure, but it also could serve as an indication that the Canes are running out of patience with Murphy's development at the NHL level and want him to play big minutes in the AHL to pick up his game.
Jay Harrison and Brett Bellemore served as healthy extras last night in Vancouver, and it seems certain that at least one of them (and possibly both) will play Saturday against the Coyotes.
The release from the team is below.
‘CANES REASSIGN SUTTER, MURPHY TO CHARLOTTE
Checkers host Hamilton at noon on Friday
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned center Brody Sutter and defenseman Ryan Murphy to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Sutter, 23, made his NHL debut in Carolina’s 2-1 shootout loss against the New York Rangers on Oct. 16, and has averaged 7:26 of ice time in four games with the Hurricanes. The Viking, Alb., native is in his third full professional season and has also played in five of Charlotte’s games, netting one goal. Sutter (6’5", 203 lbs.) notched eight goals and earned 20 assists (28 points) in 69 games with the Checkers in 2013-14, and has scored 13 goals and earned 22 assists in 101 career AHL games with Charlotte since turning professional. The Hurricanes drafted Sutter in the seventh round, 193rd overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Murphy, 21, has one assist and ranks second among Hurricanes defensemen with 13 shots on net in six games this season. The Aurora, Ont., native is in his second full professional season, after notching 12 points (2g, 10a) in 48 games for the Hurricanes in 2013-14. Carolina’s first-round selection, 12th overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy (5’11", 185 lbs.) has totaled 13 points (2g, 11a) and 14 penalty minutes in 58 career NHL games.