The Ryan Murray signing by the Edmonton Oilers on Sept. 2 felt like a 2012 Draft day do-over. If you recall, they drafted forward Nail Yakapov first overall, while the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Murray with the second overall pick. There was some talk that Oilers scouts really wanted to pick Murray, but in the end, the flashy Yakapov was chosen over him.
Could This Be The Year Murray Lives Up To His Potential?
The often injured, journeyman defenceman hasn’t really lived up to the hype of the 2012 NHL Draft. In fairness to everyone drafted that year, neither Yakapov, Murray or even Alex Galchenyuk, who was chosen third overall, should’ve been picked that high in a draft that could be considered one of the weakest in NHL history.
The best player from that draft is clearly Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was selected 19th overall. The Lightning received the 19th pick from the Detroit Red Wings that year, and without a doubt, he has been one of the best goaltenders of his generation and is certain to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame someday.
Saskatchewan Kid Comes Home to Western Canada
Murray, who won a Stanley Cup last season with the Colorado Avalanche, was signed to a one-year contract with the Oilers for $750,000. He was injured during Colorado’s Cup run and saw limited ice time when he began to get healthy. He may be a bit of a gamble for Oilers general manager Ken Holland, but at the low price he was signed to, the rewards greatly outweigh the risk.
Murray who hails from Regina, was a standout defenceman with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. Named captain of the Silvertips in his third season, he represented Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship and also became the second youngest player to represent Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship (Paul Kariya holds the record for being the youngest in 1993).
After nine injury-plagued seasons in the NHL with the Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, and Avalanche, Murray comes to Edmonton having only played one full NHL 82-game campaign in 2015-16. Being back in Western Canada could inspire him to play the best hockey of his NHL career, as sometimes all a player needs is to be closer to home. However, he will be in for some stiff competition from some of the young Oilers defensive prospects including Markus Niemelainen and Dmitri Samorukov.
With the addition of Murray, the Oilers have one of the deepest groups of defencemen they’ve had since the days of Chris Pronger back in 2005-06. With Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, Evan Bouchard, Brett Kulak, Tyson Barrie and Philip Broberg manning the defensive zone, the addition of Murray could make them even better. If he can remain healthy, that is.
A Sign of Redemption for Murray and the Oilers?
When Yakapov was drafted and Oilers fans began to realize he wasn’t going to be the answer, many people flooded the sports radio talk shows and hockey blogs with questions about why the Oilers brass didn’t choose Murray. This signing represents a do-over. A second chance for both Murray and the Oilers in a way too. If he can live up to the potential he showed when he was drafted back in 2012, they might have a real diamond in the rough on their hands.
With the Oilers looking like legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, a strong season by Murray and a possible Stanley Cup Championship would be a bit of redemption. After all, everyone deserves a second chance don’t you think?