In the world of fantasy sports, expert knowledge is everything. How many times have you found yourself in a hockey pool where someone decides to draft an unknown Finnish Elite Leaguer or NCAA late-bloomer like Brian Rafalski of the New Jersey Devils in 1999’2000 or Chris Kunitz of the Anaheim Ducks in 2005’06. These picks, although suspect at the time, can often win drafts for keen puckheads.
Tom Preissing is one such defenseman who surprised many fantasy experts by registering 43 points with the San Jose Sharks in 2005’06. Preissing emerged as one of the top offensive defensemen on a stacked Sharks team after starting the year as a 26-year-old unknown depth defenseman out of Colorado College. Preissing impressed so many hockey insiders that he was a hot commodity in last summers player market, and was eventually traded to the Ottawa Senators in a 3 way deal which also included the Chicago Blackhawks ( Preissing had a solid 38 point campaign in 2006’07, including 7 points in 20 playoff games).
You don’t have to look any further than Illegal Curve for this years Tom Preissing because his name is Cory Murphy and he will play for the Florida Panthers this season. Some readers may know Murphy as the “guy you didn’t know” on Team Canada during the 2007 World Hockey Championships (yours truly), some may have read his name on hockey blog sites or in The Hockey News Pool Guide. Murphy, from Kanata, Ontario, has spent 5 of the last 6 seasons in the Finnish Elite League, registering 50 points for HIFK Helsinki in 2006’07. Murphy went undrafted after a solid collegiate career with Colgate (’97-’01). He signed with the Panthers in 2007 after catching the eye of a Panthers pro scout ( it is rumoured that many teams were interested in Cory Murphy, the New Jersey Devils included among them). The 29-year-old Murphy should have much success on a young Florida team in desperate need of a puck moving defenseman who can also also chip in on the power play. Murphy will thrive playing with the likes of Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss and it is because he will be given every opportunity to thrive in a solid hockey system just like Brian Rafalski, Chris Kunitz and Tom Preissing did before him.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Ezra Ginsburg