Photo: TSN

So now that the Maple Leafs have settled into the fifth overall selection (barring any major surprises from the draft lottery), the draft picture becomes a little bit clearer and the list of draft candidates becomes a little narrower. Today, let’s talk about Everett Silvertips’ captain Ryan Murray, a tremendously skilled defenseman earning comparisons to the likes of Scott Niedermayer.

The Basics: All-around defenseman with top notch mobility for the Everett Silvertips; 31 points in 46 games played.

Strengths: It’s not easy living up to a comparison to a Hall of Fame calibre player, but Ryan’s doing a pretty good job so far. His resume speaks for itself. Murray was the Canadian captain for the gold medal winning U18 Ivan Hlinka tournament team and was also named the Silvertips’ captain at the tender age of 17. He is an absolute horse on the Everett blueline, touching a ridiculous 30+ minutes/game and is a difference maker at both ends of the ice. Red Line Report commended Murray on his superb defensive play, describing him as virtually “flawless positionally”. The offensive statistics a bit misleading due to a weak team, but Murray possesses high level poise, vision and rushing ability. He’s mature beyond his years, has all the tools to become a future captain and is likely ready to step onto an NHL blueline next season.

Weaknesses: While Murray does a lot of things very, very well, he doesn’t project to have the kind of skills you’re going to see regularly on the morning highlights. It’s tough to pinpoint where exactly his offensive ceiling lies. He’s going to be wonderful even strength defender but is he a future first unit powerplay quarterback? Maybe. He has the skating ability but tends to prefer the quick, safe outlet pass to the high risk, end-to-end rushes. He doesn’t have a big point shot and is not known to be a big bruiser physically. Ryan is all about playing the safe, reliable game and it’s more likely you’ll notice his contributions in the “W” column than on Youtube.

Draft Day Outlook: This one should be easy enough. Murray will go between picks 2 and 5. Book it. Murray reminds me a lot of Ryan Suter in terms of his ability to eat minutes and dominate the even strength game. He’s a perfect fit to anchor the Edmonton blueline for the next decade, so it’ll be awfully difficult for Ryan to slip by the 2nd or 3rd selection. The most interesting draft day storyline on the blueline will be whether teams prefer Murray’s reliability and leadership over Matthew Dumba’s electrifying offensive and physical ability as the first defenseman off the board. He should be ready for the NHL next season and projects to become a top flight defender through his prime.

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