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.

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

The Hockey News: No. 4

International Scouting Services: No. 3

McKeen’s Hockey: No. 4

Red Line Report: No. 4

TSN: No. 12


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."


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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    In an effort to remain politically correct and non discriminatory, i think we should pass on Ryan Murray as well. He could very well defect to the KHL like most of the other top 5 selections.

    Oilers should pass on this No. 1 selection this yr, show up at the draft tommorow 1 hr late. Nothing but buyers remorse in store for no matter who the Oilers select. Damn you KHL!

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Ken

    Nice try cherry picking.

    Of course their have been good to great players picked at 11/17/22/143 … I didn’t say otherwise.

    However the odds of it happening are very very low.

    Essentially you’d be cashing in a 6.5/10 player for a picke with: 10% of improving on that, 20% odds of matching it and 70% odds of downgrading.

    Looks like a bad bet to me.

  • 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.