Connor Murphy Speaks: New Contract, Blackhawks Offseason Moves, Jonathan Toews, and More

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Connor Murphy Speaks: New Contract, Blackhawks Offseason Moves, Jonathan Toews, and More

Chicago Blackhawks

Here’s a sight for sore eyes, even if I wasn’t there to see it in person:

Yes, a real press scrum for the Blackhawks and Chicago media, in person. Obviously distanced and masked and I’d venture a guess that most, if not all involved, are vaccinated against COVID-19. But it’s great to see this become more of a reality after having so many months of Zoom press conferences. Hopefully if things can go in the right direction regarding COVID cases, this will become the norm again and not an exception.

But the reason there was a media availability today for the Blackhawks was to talk with newly extended defenseman Connor Murphy as he and a few others got some on-ice work done at the Fifth Third Ice Arena in Chicago. Murphy touched on a number of topics from this summer, including his newly signed four-year contract extension with the club…

Murphy’s current deal with the Blackhawks, at a $3.85M cap hit, expires at the end of this season and then his new deal, which comes with a $4.4M AAV cap hit, takes effect. Since coming to the Blackhawks in an unpopular trade (at the time) that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, Murphy has filled the role that Hjalmarsson played while in Chicago admirably. He’s been second on the team in ice-time per game among defensemen for the last two seasons and has regularly been used, successfully, in a shutdown role.

With his new deal, Murphy is going to be a fixture with the Blackhawks’ defensive core for a number of years to come. He is one of the longest tenured defensemen with the club now, having played 236 NHL games with Chicago, and behind Seth Jones, has the second-most years remaining under contract with the Blackhawks out of all players.

Speaking of Jones, Murphy touched on the newest acquisitions by the Blackhawks this offseason, including the man he will be playing in front of the most, Marc-André Fleury…

Since they both play on the right side of the defense, it’s unlikely we’ll see Murphy paired with Seth Jones this season, but having him in the defensive core, along with Jake McCabe and Calvin de Haan, should help elevate the level of play in the top-four of Chicago’s blue-line and beyond down the depth chart…

Also hoping to help elevate the players around him this season is the expected return of Blackhawk Captain Jonathan Toews. We’ve been given a variety of expectations for the 33-year-old Toews, everything from he’ll be good to go on night one to he’s still a wait and see case, but Murphy is encouraged by what he has seen of Toews back on the ice…

With more responsibility handed to Murphy this season, the multiple offseason additions made by the Blackhawks and the return of a healthy Toews, the expectations for Murphy and the club have increased from the end of last season to the beginning of training camp later this month. After falling short of the postseason in the last four years (the bubble postseason shouldn’t really count), and having not won a Stanley Cup Playoff series since the 2015 Cup Final, the Blackhawks are currently positioned the best they probably have been since Murphy’s arrival with the team.

In his NHL career, which spans nearly 500 regular season games with the Coyotes and Blackhawks, Murphy has yet to be on a true Stanley Cup Playoff contending team, again outside of the 2020 bubble postseason. The hope is that this 2021-22 Blackhawks club can finally end that streak for the 28-year-old defenseman…

We shall see how that plays out. For the time being, Murphy being locked-in for the next few years is only a good thing for the Blackhawks and for the Chicago community.

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.