Checkers goaltender Mike Murphy is headed back to Europe, this time to Dornbirn of the Austrian league.
According to the club’s official website, Murphy, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time, agreed to terms on Monday. The development continues a trend of alternating continents over the last four seasons, with the 25-year-old signing with the KHL’s Spartak Moscow as a restricted free agent in 2012 only to return to Charlotte last fall.
Given a fresh start with the organization after a quick release from Spartak that season, an injury and a month-long spell on the sidelines as the Carolina Hurricanes’ backup limited Murphy to just 19 total games played over the course of the most recent campaign. By the time he returned to the Checkers’ lineup in December, John Muse had resurfaced to take a hold on the starter’s job, one he would not relinquish down the stretch.
The Hurricanes’ sixth-round draft choice in 2008, Murphy finished the season with a 4-11-0 record, 3.99 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. He remains the Checkers’ all-time leader in games (96) and minutes (5,189) played by a goaltender, while his record for most wins (43) was surpassed by Muse in March. A native of Kingston, Ontario, Murphy is one of eight players (Nicolas Blanchard, Zach Boychuk, Michal Jordan, Rasmus Rissanen, Jared Staal, Brett Sutter and Chris Terry) to play at least one game in all four of the Checkers’ AHL seasons.
Like Murphy, Muse, who signed an AHL deal with the Checkers in December, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The void in goal could be at least partially filled by rising prospect Daniel Altshuller, with the rest of organization’s depth to be determined as the offseason progresses.
Murphy becomes the second member of last season's team to sign in Europe, following in the footsteps of KHL-bound defenseman Mark Flood.