Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips, who is widely expected to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, seems to have received an invitation from Hockey Canada to play at the World Championships. As far as I can tell, this was first reported by Dean Millard of the Pipeline Show radio show in Edmonton with the following tweet:
We have confirmed that Ryan Murray has been approached by Hockey Canada to play in the World Championship.Should be announced tomorrow.#iihf— The Pipeline Show (@ThePipelineShow) April 15, 2012
Murray's been discussed at length around these parts as a possible #2 draft selection. Since the Oilers won the lottery though, this news about Murray seems to have fallen by the wayside.
I'm no World Championship historian, but a draft eligible 18-year-old defenseman playing for Canada in the World Championships sounds like the sort of thing that might be unprecedented, especially in this era. Other defenseman who have accepted invitations currently include Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf, P.K. Subban and Marc Methot. Say what you want about Methot and what a suckfest the Columbus Blue Jackets are, but the rest is pretty good company.
One of the big knocks on Murray was that he's likely at least two or three years away from contributing at the NHL level. However, Ryan Murray being invited to the tournament, especially with so many NHL alternatives - Travis Hamonic and Tyler Myers among young players, Robyn Regehr, Mark Giordano, Josh Gorges, Francois Beauchemin, Eric Brewer, Stephane Robidas, Sheldon Souray and Nick Schultz among veterans, and Kris Letang, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa all on the brink of elimination from the playoffs - is no small feat. With so many NHL-proven alternatives for Murray's roster spot, is his invitation evidence to the contrary? Is Murray more NHL-ready than we think?
We can't forget who's captaining this ship either though. Kevin Lowe is Team Canada's General Manager for the World Championships. Lowe is also the Edmonton Oilers' President of Hockey Operations and the Oilers, of course, have the top selection in the upcoming draft. While Nail Yakupov is the consensus top pick, Murray could go second overall and there's been talk of the Oilers trading down since they sorely need defensive help. Did Lowe invite Murray not because he earned it over NHLers, but for an audition? With so many NHL-proven defenceman who could play instead of Murray, was Murray invited so that Lowe would have an opportunity to watch him play against NHL-level competition? I haven't looked up the exact wording, but I'd venture to guess that Lowe's mandate as GM for this tournament is likely something along the lines of being "responsible for putting together the strongest team of players and coaches possible in order to give Canada the best chance to win". Does Ryan Murray give Canada the best chance to win at the World Championships? And if Murray is not yet ready to play NHL-level competition, did Kevin Lowe blatantly disregard his Hockey Canada mandate for personal and/or professional gain?
As always, I look forward to your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this FanPost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the staff.