Originally written on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 11/10/14

Judging the quality of a goaltending prospect is very difficult and projecting their future performance is even more challenging. The reason for this is because goaltending performance tends to be very random over the course of time and the difference between the eighth best goalie and twentieth is usually very small in any given league. That and a top goalie in one league doesn't always make a smooth transition to the next level without some growing pains. Carolina goaltending prospect Mike Murphy is a good example of that.

When Murphy first arrived in the OHL, he struggled for playing time and had a save percentage of less than .900 in 21 games played. Once he got his feet wet and played more games, he became one of the better goalies in junior hockey and had a fantastic season in 2008-09 with a .941 save percentage in 54 games played. His post-junior career has also been pretty solid as he has been splitting starting duties with the likes of Justin Peters and Justin Pogge in Charlotte the last few years. Last season, however, was a bit of a step down for him. He was battling some injuries and posted a save percentage of only .908 in 37 games. It wasn't a major decline from the previous year but a step down regardless.

Murphy did get to make his NHL debut last season, though and set an NHL record by becoming the first goalie to be charged with a loss despite not giving up a goal. The Canes were trailing by three when he entered a game against Calgary, scored once to make it a two-goal game and then the Flames would score an empty net goal to make it 7-4. Carolina then scored two last-minute goals to make it 7-6 and Murphy ended up getting charged with the loss because the ENG ended up being the game-winner. It's a strange occurrence that will probably lead to Murphy becoming a hockey trivia question.

As for Murphy's AHL track record, I think that he will rebound in another season there so I'm not too worried about his performance there. The biggest issue for Murphy in the pros seems to be related to playing time more than anything else. Ever since Murphy has been in Albany/Charlotte, he has had to split time with someone in net and has never played the majority of a season because of this. The injury he sustained last year probably got in the way of that, too. The Checkers haven't been able to guarantee Murphy the starting job while he has been there and I think this coming year would have been the same with Peters being re-signed and John Muse possibly being added to the team. This may have influenced Murphy's decision to sign with HC Spartak Moscow of the KHL for next season.

The Hurricanes decided to qualify Murphy despite this, so he will stay in the organization once his contract in the KHL expires. This is a smart move by Carolina because Murphy is still very young (23) and the team is going to need to find a heir apparent to Cam Ward sooner or later. We don't know if Murphy will be that guy just yet but he could be depending on how he develops in the coming years. Judging from his career totals, he tends to get better once he plays more games so I would have liked for him to spend another year in Charlotte but if he can find a starting job in Russia then that is fine, too. As long as he keeps improving and the Hurricanes can hang onto his rights to keep him in the system.

Murphy's playing style reminds me a little bit of Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals in the sense that he's pretty aggressive in net and has some very quick reflexes. It's both a good and a bad thing because he can make some spectacular recovery saves but he also tends to put himself in bad positions as a result of overplaying some shooters. Goaltenders usually take a longer time to develop than others so the Hurricanes will know what they have in Murphy in another couple years. Projecting his full potential will be tough because he's going to be playing in another league next year, but the thing to remember with goalie prospects is that the most you can hope for is for them to be quality starters.

You can drive yourself crazy searching for the next Jonathan Quick or Tim Thomas, so the best you can do is find someone who you think can be average in net and hope that he can play out of his mind for some period of time. Can the Hurricanes get that with Murphy? I can't tell you but he appears to be on a pretty decent track and I wish him the best of luck in the KHL.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

John Farrell: Pitchers need an approved gripping substance

Cam Newton: Nobody has ever been who I'm trying to be

Bears cut Ray McDonald after domestic violence arrest

Report: Paul Pierce could opt out of contract, join Clippers

Report: NBA exploring moving start of Finals up

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Isaiah Thomas: Danny Ainge wants my input on free agents

Brian Matusz suspended eight games for substance on arm

Baseball players in the military: A tribute

'Free Tom Brady' rally draws about 150 Patriots fans

LeBron's triple-double leads Cavs to win in OT thriller

Report: Adrian Peterson will skip Vikings first OTAs

WATCH: Khris Davis trolls umps after controversial homer

Is Adrian Peterson leveraging himself out of the league?

Mascot creates controversy with 'Police Lives Matter' sign

The Talented Mr. Blatt

The curious case of Frank Kaminsky

Is the Cavs' Matthew Dellavedova a dirty player?

LeBron lifts Cavaliers to brink of Finals, but are they ready?

Will Phil Jackson give himself a chance to succeed with Knicks?

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

Federer unhappy with security after fan comes on court

WATCH: LeBron throws down ferocious dunk in traffic

WATCH: Al Horford ejected for elbowing Matthew Dellavedova

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Report: Pierce could opt out of contract

Could the NBA Finals be moved up?

The Talented Mr. Blatt

Is Dellavedova a dirty player?

Ballplayers in the military: A tribute

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

WATCH: LeBron's ferocious dunk in traffic

Kelly drops hint about ND offense

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.