Updated March 20, 2021 - 3:22 pm
The Golden Knights put together a magical inaugural season by giving second chances to players from other organizations. Something similar might be happening in Henderson.
Case in point: One of the Silver Knights’ three leading scorers isn’t a top prospect. He wasn’t in the NHL last season. He wasn’t even in the American Hockey League.
Defenseman Ryan Murphy instead was in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League keeping his career afloat. The 27-year-old got another opportunity in North America with the Silver Knights in August, and he’s made the most of it by scoring 12 points in 13 games through Friday.
“It was different,” Murphy said. “Nothing’s worse. Nothing’s better. It’s just different. … My main goal was to get back to North America and get back to the NHL. That’s where I want to be. I think this is the organization that gives me the best chance right now.”
Murphy was a touted prospect once. He was the 11th pick in the 2011 NHL draft. He played 175 games over seven seasons, but never established a foothold in the league.
After appearing just three times in 2018-19, he decided to give the KHL a shot. He spent last season with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in east Russia. It gave him the chance to see a new part of the world and experience a different culture. It also helped him rediscover his game.
Free from the expectations he carried in North America, Murphy focused on being who he is rather than trying to be someone he’s not. He relied on his skating, puck moving and power-play prowess to score 31 points in his 68 KHL games.
He carried that over to Henderson. He’s tied with Stockton’s Alex Petrovic as the highest scoring defenseman in the AHL.
It’s been yet another success story for the Golden Knights organization. All it cost them was an AHL contract in August.
“I’ve played in a lot of different systems so far in my career,” Murphy said. “This one, it feels easy. It feels like I’m stepping into a hockey game that I can play. … I’m excited for the way things have started.”
Goaltender Oscar Dansk may already have made the save of the Silver Knights’ season. With the team up 3-1 late in the third period March 14 against the San Diego Gulls, Dansk tried to freeze the puck beneath his pads laying flat on the ice.
— Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56) March 15, 2021
The puck got free and Dansk had to improvise to cover the net. When a shot came in quickly from the right circle, Dansk rotated onto his back and stuck his left pad straight up in the air to make one of the more acrobatic saves of his career.
“Glad my Pilates is paying off,” Dansk said. “That’s probably one of the better (saves I’ve made). I don’t think you make those too often. It’s fun to make it. It’s certainly why you want to be a goalie.”
The Silver Knights played their first home game in front of 1,533 fans Saturday at Orleans Arena. Forward Gage Quinney said Friday the players were looking forward to it because most of them hadn’t seen people at the rink for more than a year.
“I think we’re kind of tired of the cutouts,” Quinney said. “It’ll be nice to hear some real noise.”