The Edmonton Oilers addressed an enormous need this afternoon in selecting White City, SK blueliner Ryan Murray. This draft’s only certain “plug and play” defenseman won the day over an exceptional scorer and a parade of blue.
- Corey Pronman: Ryan Murray is advanced beyond his years with well above-average hockey sense and the rare kind of game-processing ability and vision that makes him a significant two-way threat even without elite offensive tools. Murray is a great presence on the back-end with the puck because he rarely makes a mistake and even though he doesn’t limit himself to the basic plays, he not will force the big passes if they are not there. He doesn’t get rushed by opposing forechecks and is one of the best outlet passers in this draft. Murray makes smart reads defensively, takes his assignments well, and will not shy from using his body to separate his check from the puck. He’s an above-average to plus skater although he isn’t the kind of player to threaten regularly with a speed game on the rush, rather he relies on a great first step and all-around mobility to keep the play in front of him and close on the puck. Murray’s puck skills are solid, and while he’s not a dangler, he can certainly hold his own in open ice. On the power play, he is a pass-first guy who makes the smart plays and the difficult passes with consistency. He also has a pretty hard shot and can wire it through legs when he needs to. While Murray does not project as an elite prospect, he has a low risk tag on his projection. He will be the kind of player to log over 20 minutes a game while playing tough minutes against the opposition’s best players while still managing to put up impressive possession numbers.
- Grant McCagg, tsn: Strengths: A real ‘Steady Eddie’ on the blue line; rarely makes a mistake and displays a poise well beyond his years. Smart, dependable rearguard who will be on the ice protecting leads at the end of games. Strong skater with a powerful stride. A team leader with high character. He moves the puck with short, accurate passes. Hard to beat one-on-one. Weaknesses: He’s not a punishing guy who will provide a physical presence while his offensive skills may be limited and he may be more of a stay-at home defender. NHL upside: A No. 2 or No. 3 defenceman with leadership qualities who will be relied upon to shut down team’s top players, kill penalties and protect leads.
- ISS: Murray has been a model of consistency for the Everett Silvertips since returning to the lineup. The maturity and composure he displayed earlier this season continued to shine. His defensive hockey sense separates him from most in this draft, and is considered the draft’s most complete defenseman. He’s generally matched up against the most teams’ top line, logging upwards of 25 minutes per game. Has more offensive upside than given credit for and bright future ahead of him.
- Central Scouting’s BJ MacDonald: “I think Murray is more like a [Scott] Niedermayer; he just does everything under the radar and so smooth you hardly notice it. His skating is probably the best in the [WHL], but you don’t really notice that so much because you almost take it for granted he’s been there for three years. He never gets out of position and I’ve never seen him lose a one-on-one battle. He’s always, defensively, in the right spots. He just does everything so seamlessly that he reminds me of Niedermayer only because he does everything so well at such a high level and after a while, you don’t even notice it.”
- Peter Sullivan, NHL Central Scouting: I think Murray brings something to the game … he brings a steadiness to the game to the point that you know he’ll play 15 years in the League without any problem.
- Mark Recchi: Murray reminds me a little bit (of) Ray Bourque. He has that Ray Bourque look to me, real composed and strong. He skates a lot like him, too. When I first saw him, I was trying to pinpoint who he reminded me of and then it hit me — Bourque.
- Excellent speed and a very good defenseman. Most of his value comes from the redline in, and the advanced stats we value don’t reward players for it.
- The BJ MacDonald scouting report above is exceptional. If Murray can live up to that, his drafting team should be very pleased with him.
- 6.01, 195 and will turn 19 on September 27. He’s an older prospect, a positive and a negative. However, since we’re not talking about offensive development with this player, his ability to play defense and advanced maturity is a positive.
- Intelligent player. I don’t think we should overlook this aspect of his resume, as we know the Oilers highly value the cerebral.
- His injury–high ankle sprain–is a tough one but he should be fine overall. The injury does serve as a reminder that drafting defenseman can be a sticky wicket. When we say things like “defenseman take time to develop” we should add “and some of them fall away because of injury” because it is such a difficult position to play.
- This is not Denis Potvin. Ryan Murray has a glimmering scouting report, but I think the comparisons to Scott Niedermayer may set him up for disappointment among the fanbase. I think he’ll be more offensively capable than Chris Phillips, and he does have a good shot acccording to the scouting reports. But a guess at an outer marker should probably use Dougie Hamilton as a comparable. We’ll see.
- I have no quarrel with the scouting staff. They trusted their board, that’s the job.
- Those who suggest Edmonton made a mistake today have an extremely strong case. If the Oilers felt Murray was the man, dealing down was the move. This is the kind of asset management that losing teams do over and over again. Not recognizing the situation tells us the Oilers are not strong in the front office. This lands squarely on Steve Tambellini. Inertia.
- A lot has been made about Murray being NHL ready. I think that kind of thinking is a mistake. Even if Murray comes in and shoot the lights out, the smart move is to send him back to junior. The Oilers need to fix the blue before this blue chipper arrives and then bring him in as a 6th man with a veteran partner like Schultz in 12-13. That’s the right play.
- This is a draft for need. We shouldn’t allow the verbal to sway elsewhere.
- If you don’t like the pick, fine. But I would like to take a moment to urge fans not to hold it against Ryan Murray. The kid didn’t ask to get drafted #1, and lord knows he’s an important piece of the future. Take your rage out on management, or the scouts, or something else.
- He’ll be here next week.
- The reasons Edmonton passed on Yakupov were not available via numbers or the viewings of a fan. Whatever his shortcomings, if he pops 25 goals next season it’ll be very difficult to write a script that puts this Oilers draft in a positive light.
- I think the Oilers badly wanted Reinhart. I mean badly. Why didn’t they trade down to take him?
- Welcome to the Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Murray! I sincerely hope you enjoy hit. A quick word of advice: rock someone in your first game, just lay them out. It’ll help, believe me.
- Stu MacGregor and his staff walk on water in this town, and certainly on this blog. They must absolutely love this player if they’ve made this selection. Hopefully it all works out. I think the scouts’ reputation will suffer.