When it comes to lock-top 5 picks, it’s hard to get any lockier than Ryan Murray. Skill, experience, Murray’s got it all. He’s been playing full seasons in the WHL since 2009 and hasn’t disappointed in any of them. For the 2011-2012 season, Murray was named a team captain for the Everett Silvertips, at just 18-years-old mind you, and more than lived up to expectations. Though his season got off to a rocky start due to an injury, Murray suited up in 46 games for the Silvertips putting up 31 points in 46 games and finishing with a plus/minus rating of even to go along with 31 penalty minutes. In the Silvertips’ 4-game playoff series against the Tri City Americans, Murray scored three goals and added 2 assists with a rating of minus-2.
Murray was also named to Team Canada’s U20 World Junior team last season. Murray played in all six games for Canada, contributing three assists on the tournament. The real indication of Murray’s skill and potential, however, may be the fact that he was also invited to Team Canada’s training camp for the 2012 IIHF World Championships, one of only two junior players to receive that honor.
Weight: 201 pounds
Born: September 27, 1993
What People In The Know Know
Coaches love him because he’s so consistent, there’s not a lot of flash to his game, but he’s a very good skater and he moves the puck very well. Of all the players in the draft, he’s the one who’s most ready to play in the NHL.
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.
Scouts love to use the word “polished” to describe Murray, which is a code word for “you won’t have to wait six years for him to develop” and also “he isn’t going to make a bunch of overeager rookie mistakes that will make us looks like giant [expletives] for suggested you draft him.”
Bottom line: He’s Niedermayer-esque with his agility, positioning and ability to join the rush. But he also blocks shots and has an impressive shot himself, scoring 31 points in 46 games this year. All of these things will be on display in the NHL next season, because he’s ready to contribute on the pro level now.
As Neate Sager points out on Buzzing The Net: “Some scouts believe he has the potential to be a franchise blueliner, similar to that of Nashville Predators’ Ryan Suter. Others see the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder as less of a cornerstone defenceman and more of a strong No. 2 on a back end who can make an impact similar to Vancouver Canucks’ Dan Hamhuis.” This isn’t to say Dan Hamhuis isn’t a solid, important player … but he’s not Ryan Suter.
When it comes to evaluating Murray, scouts unanimously believe he’ll play in the NHL for a long time. But how good he’ll be is where they have a difference of opinion.
In many ways, Murray epitomizes this year’s draft class in that he’s a safe, surefire pick to play, but not necessarily a guy who’s going to be a star player. One scout compared him to Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs, another to Nick Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers, another to Karl Alzner of the Washington Capitals.
Some think he should definitely go in the top five, others aren’t sure he merits that kind of status.
“If I’m picking a guy at the top of the draft, I’m looking for a little more of a home run,” one scout said. “You could pick this guy and say, ‘He’s the safest player in the draft, see you later.’ Does that mean it’s a good pick? I don’t know.”
Murray has displayed ample consistency playing lots of minutes against top lines in the WHL.
From The Horse’s Mouth
There is absolutely no question that Murray has the talent to be a top-flight blueliner in the NHL. Just looking above at what people who know things say, there are two comparisons to Scott Neidermayer. When that’s who you remind people of, you’re probably pretty good at what you do and I don’t think there is any doubt that Murray is good at what he does.
Murray is currently ranked 2nd amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting which is pretty accurate to his skill set. As I said, he’s a lock for a top 5 pick come the Draft though Murray’s draft spot could be a lot more interesting than first thought. It really wouldn’t shock me to hear Murray’s named called before everyone else’s tonight.