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CH Alumni projected to go in NHL draft

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) Fri Jun 27 2014 Page: B1 Section: Sports Byline: Jeremy Trevors The Daily Gleaner

It’s a big weekend for a pair of Frederictonians going into the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Philadelphia, Pa.

Defenceman Matt Murphy of the Halifax Mooseheads and right winger Spencer Smallman of the Saint John Sea Dogs are ranked 128th and 173rd overall, respectively, among North American skaters. Both play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

For Murphy, the 19-year-old was passed over in the draft last season and is looking to not get passed over again.

“It was tough,” Murphy said. “I went there hoping to get drafted. I talked to quite a few teams, my agent and all that. I went in there with the expectation to get drafted and I didn’t, so it was a big disappointment.”

Afterwards, Murphy took a few days to himself and later went to a development camp. He said not getting drafted actually gave him more motivation heading into the 2013-14 season.

He’s certainly made a case for himself.

In 64 games with the Mooseheads this past season, Murphy notched 10 goals and 36 points, including 63 penalty minutes, and posted a plus-minus rating of plus-51 – third best in the QMJHL. The Mooseheads were eliminated in the third round by the Val d’Or Foreurs in seven games. The Foreurs went on to win the league title. The year before, Murphy had two goals and 33 points with a plus-minus rating of plus-22, splitting time between the Foreurs and Mooseheads. Murphy won the Q-league title with the Mooseheads and later the Memorial Cup.

Murphy was happy with how he improved from the season before. He worked on his offensive ability, skating ability, his shot and his strength. He also became more confident.

“That just came with experience,” Murphy said. “I think that was the main thing that helped me this year was the experience that I gained and going in there and having confidence.”

This time around, Murphy said he’s hoping for the best, but if he’s not drafted, he’s not going to let that stop him.

“I’m just going to go into it with no expectations, and if I get drafted, then awesome, I’m going to go from there. If not, then I’m going to keep on the same plan, go to development camp and try and open up some eyes,” Murphy said.

Smallman put up 12 goals and 35 points in 66 games with a plus-minute rating of even for the Sea Dogs this past season. Although the Sea Dogs missed the playoffs, it was an improvement by 10 goals and 29 points from the season before for Smallman. He improved his plus-minus rating by plus-14 from the season before.

Smallman said he’s talked to about six teams but didn’t say which ones.

The conversations were just to get some background information on him leading into the draft.

“It’s not really the interviews that will make or break you,” Smallman said. “It’s more the on-ice stuff that they’re looking at that they watched all year.”

As for the draft, Smallman is going to let things take its course, and whatever happens, happens.

“I don’t really have any expectations,” Smallman said. “I’m just going to hope for the best, and if I get picked, I get picked. And if I don’t, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

Smallman was happy with how he performed last season with the Sea Dogs. He said the team should improve this year with draft picks and free agent signings.

“We’re still a young team but we’re going to get better as time goes on,” he said. “We have quite a few coming back and a few free agents. It’s going to be a pretty competitive camp. There’s no really set spots.”

Smallman realized he could play hockey for a living when was playing for the Fredericton Midget AAA Canadiens in the New Brunswick/P.E.I Major Midget Hockey League after speaking to some QMJHL teams and being selected by the Sea Dogs 70th overall in 2012.

“To dream to play at the Q-level as a young boy, it was pretty cool. To actually make the team when I was 16 was really another eye-opener. I’m just kind of living the dream,” Smallman said.

The first round of the draft gets underway tonight at 8 p.m. Atlantic time on TSN.

On Saturday, Rounds 2 through 7 start at 11 a.m. on the NHL Network.

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