Do the Edmonton Oilers need a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who can log big minutes and be a fixture in their top four for the next decade? Sure they do. Do they need to use the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to acquire that player? No they don’t.

That’s what history tells us and that’s why I can’t see the Oilers passing on a forward like Nail Yakupov or Alex Galchenyuk to take Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips, as fine a prospect as he is, when they step to the podium on Friday with the first pick for the third straight year.

Yes, Murray, mature beyond his years and having already shown he can play with men at the World Championships, has been pegged as the best blue line prospect of this draft class, but is there clear separation between him and four or five others, including Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings? No.

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Might the Oilers be able to get a defenseman who turns out to be just as good as Murray later in the draft? Yes. One need only look at players who’ve won the Norris Trophy over the past 17 years – not the only measuring stick but a reasonable one – to see that.

Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, who claimed the Norris Trophy Wednesday, was taken 15th overall in 2008. Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time winner in that stretch, went 53rd in 1989. The other winners in that span have been Duncan Keith (54th), Zdeno Chara (56th), Scott Niedermayer (3rd), Chris Pronger (2nd), Al MacInnis (15th), Rob Blake (70th), Brian Leetch (9th) and Chris Chelios (40th).

The Oilers most certainly need the kind of defenseman Murray might turn out to be three or four seasons from now, but they don’t, and likely won’t, pass on Yakupov or Galchenyuk to get him Friday.


NHL Central Scouting: No. 2 among North American skaters

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The Hockey News: No. 4

International Scouting Services: No. 3

McKeen’s Hockey: No. 4

Red Line Report: No. 4

TSN: No. 12


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Despite an injury shortened season in 2011-12, Murray led all Everett defensemen with 31 points (9-22-31) in 46 games.

Murray represented Canada at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships collecting two assists in five games as Canada captured bronze. He was one of two 2012 draft-eligible players selected to represent Canada at the tournament and was the only player on the team in his first year of draft eligibility.

At the start of the 2010-11 season, he was named captain of the Everett Silvertips becoming the youngest captain in franchise history. In 70 games, he led the team with a plus-18 rating and led all defensemen with 46 points (6-40-46). Over his final 36 games he tallied 33 points (4-29-33) helping the Silvertips qualify for the 2011 playoffs.


NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. 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, 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."

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Scouting Report: "I see a solid two-way defenseman who makes a good first pass. He’s a great skater who gets up the ice quickly to follow up on the offensive attack."

Projection: "He’s probably a top-two or top-three guy."

Weaknesses: "He’s only six feet and a bit. What will be the determining factor is if he can be that shutdown-type D-man you require in that sort of position."

NHL Comparable: "Some people say he’s like Mark Howe."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Ken

    The only time I’d trade good to great players for picks outside of the top 2-3 would be if the player nearing the end of his career or had a contract that he wont renew for a resonable term.

    Now, that has to be within reason of course. I’d obviously trade say Ryan Jones for say the 10th overall pick… but I wouldn’t trade him for the 2nd/3rd rounder we’d likely get for him.

    47% isn’t thath good, but it’s alot better then “Can’t win faceoffs” like you claimed.

    I’d love for you to point me to a game that a team won by being bigger then the opposition while scoring less goals then the oppostion. Outscoring the other team is all that matters… that’s it.

    • I’d love for you to point me to a game that a team won by being bigger then the opposition while scoring less goals then the oppostion. Outscoring the other team is all that matters… that’s it.

      That is a tautology.

      Goal scoring doesn’t occur in a vaacuum. In some games it is done by brilliant dekes and stick handling, in others it is accomplished by grinding along the boards and outworking the other team on the cycle. Size would help in this latter respect.

      I like Gags, but he does seem to be on his butt a lot. Let me ask you this, and I think it gets to Ken’s point:

      If you could magically make Gags 6″ taller and 20-30 lbs heavier would you?

  • The longer this goes on the more I am inexplicably leaning toward trading down and grabbing Galchenyuk and a Reinhart/O’Reilly/Trouba/etc.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Yakupov. He may be Stamkos Lite™.

    I just have a possibly completely irrational hunch.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Oilander

    Exactly!! Scoring and stoping the other team from scoring can be done in a variaty of ways. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, just that you do it.

    A big player that can’t score and/or stop the other team from scoring is worse then a small player that can score and/or stop the other team from scoring.

    If adding that size to Gagner led to more goals for/less goals against, then I’d do it. If it woudln’t, then I wouldn’t.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Ya but we are not doing any of those things! Thats the problem! Without that 8pt night Gagner was a 39 point guy. Thats brutal.

      Reinhart is projected to be an all around player with more size, so I do not know where you are getting the sense where he can’t do anything.

      Gagner would for sure be a better player if he had a bigger body, but the same skill set.

      And you are saying you would not give Ryan Jones up for a 2nd round pick?! Is he worth a first round to you?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Why couldn’t there have been a generational talent in this draft. Or the previous 2. Someone who you knew was the BPA. Or maybe it’s just us oilers fans who can’t make up our mind.

  • If Stu has Galchenyuk rated very closely to Yakupov then I would have to agree with Gregor and others that you should take the centerman. Whose to say he can’t play wing while Gagner raises his trade value? A month ago everyone was wondering if Hall could play center if we traded Gagner? Well why not draft the natural centerman in Galchenyuk and play him as a winger (not so different from how Boston used Seguin his first year). It is alot easier for a centerman to play wing than vice versa.

    Maybe he comes to camp and impresses huge and come trade deadline Gagner is gone for a highly touted more “sure-thing” defensive prospect.

    Just my two cents.

  • TKB2677

    If the Oilers own head scout thinks that Murray’s ceiling is only a #3 dman and maybe a #2 Dman, the Oilers CAN NOT use a #1 overall draft pick on him.

    If you are going to use a #1 overall draft pick on a Dman, he better be a forsure #1, dominant Dman. The last thing the Oilers need is a Eric Johnson. Eric Johnson is a good NHL Dman but he was not worth a #1 overall that the Blues wasted on him.

    • If Stu thinks Murray will be better than Yakupov in the long run then by all means go ahead. The problem is, he can’t even know if he is the best d-man in this draft, let alone the best player.

      Darren Dregr must be stopped!