by Lisa McRitchie on 06/09/12 at 10:15 PM ET
Third in the string of promising prospects to visit the Edmonton Oilers and the city itself was Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray. Murray’s stocks have steadily risen throughout the season and may have been given their biggest boost when he was invited to play for team Canada at the Worlds. This was a great source of rumour when it came to the draft and the Oilers because of course Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Devan Dubnyk were also on the team. Oilers’ president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe was also the team’s GM and add to that the rumours that coach Brent Sutter may just be the Oilers’ next head coach and what you have is a story with legs; Murray is definitely on the radar for the first overall draft pick.
Murray would fill in a gap with the Oilers, a team that has it’s biggest holes on the blueline. But the team also has a deep list of defencemen who will be NHL ready within the next couple of years, and there is that nagging question of who is the best player available at the draft, not just which position do the Oilers want to work on the most.
There is still the possibility that Justin Schultz is a target of the team. Schultz will be a UFA this July 1st despite never having signed a professional level contract. Schultz was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks but for his own reasons did not sign with the team. Now that he is finished playing at the college level Schultz finds himself in a very unique situation and as a player that any team would love to have.
Bot Schultz and Murray could compete for a position on an NHL team this coming season and so either could be a good fit for the Oilers. But if the Oilers can sign Scultz, they can also take Yakupov and really have it all.
Murray has already made stops to visit the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens, and you have to know that a trip to Columbus will be next. Because the Blue Jackets have not invited Nail Yakupov for a visit, it’s very apparent that they are far more interested in this defenceman with international experience; not just from the Worlds, but also the most recent World Juniors in Edmonton and Calgary.
It isn’t hard to imagine Murray in an NHL jersey this fall, the question will remain however though, with which team? At this point in time, I would say it will be Columbus.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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