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Phoenix Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy needs another knee surgery, done for season with Sarnia Sting

Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy (OHL Images)

Phoenix Coyotes first-rounder Connor Murphy has a world junior gold medal to cherish but it came at cost for him. And the Sarnia Sting.

In practically one fell swoop, the Sting have provided Exhibit A for how a half-season's impressive progress in the CHL can get thwarted by both the NHL teams' plans and the beast that is the world junior championship. Coach-GM Jacques Beaulieu's team, which is holding the No. 2 playoff seed in the OHL's cutthroat Western Conference, faces not knowing whether it will get star centre Alex Galchenyuk back from the Montreal Canadiens. Now Murphy's already voluminous medical records have added another chapter.

From Terry Doyle (@loosepucks) and Paul Owen (@observerowen)

The timing with this news and the league's trade deadline is curious. Please keep in mind that Beaulieu traded heavily last season for a shot at a playoff run which did not materialize, as Sarnia lost in the first round to Saginaw. That and losing Galchenyuk could have been equal or larger factors in choosing not to load up. (The Sting actually moved an older defenceman, sending 19-year-old Jack Kuzmyk to Erie, which is trying to catch up to the playoff pack). At the same time, surmising that Murphy's condition dashed any chance of going all out to win the season is more than fair.

The Sting, whether Galchenyuk is present or not, are a high-scoring team. (Centre Charlie Sarault has a case to be the best overage player in the OHL.) But Murphy (18 points, plus-14 in 33 games) represented a large part of their defensive support, along with overage Alex Basso (23 points, also plus-14). It is hard to say how they keep ahead of the Plymouth Whalers, who are five points back and made a big trade for high-scoring centre Vincent Trocheck.

Murphy, as someone who grew to 6-foot-5 rather early, was affected by back problems as a 16- and 17-year-old. The Coyotes decided his potential overrode the injury fears when they drafted him, but now the rangy defender has needed surgery on a knee in successive seasons. One wonders at what point his injury history will take away from him being a prospect.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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