Ryan Murray (pictured above) has already had his name thrown around with all-time great Scott Niedermayer. As a WHL rookie with Everett, Murray scored 5-22-27 in 52 games during the 2009-10 season, and finished as a plus-33. The Silvertips plummeted from 46 wins that year to just 28 last year, but despite that, Murray had 6-40-46 and was plus-18 in 70 games. He made his WHL debut in the 2008-09 playoffs, where he collected one assist in 5 games, but has since scored 10 playoff points in 11 games over two seasons.
Oilers fans will get a close look at the 6 foot, 185 pound Murray during the World Juniors this year, where he is sure to be a major contributor to Team Canada. He's a left-handed shot, so if the Oilers took him another lefty would probably have to go, but the Oilers' defense is far from set for the future. Barring an injury or total collapse, expect this player to go in the top five.
There are numerous other defensemen that could easily go in the top ten at this year's draft. Among those are Morgan Rielly and Derrick Pouliot, as the WHL churns out a strong D crop in 2012. As the season goes on we'll see who the true top players are, but all of this is good news for the Oilers. This draft is extremely deep in defensive prospects, which means that even if the Oilers finish outside of the lottery they will have a shot to draft a very good defenseman. If, by some miracle or horror, the Oilers pick first for a third year in a row, they'll be able to select Nail Yakupov and add his tremendous scoring ability. If they don't want to do that, Edmonton could always trade down and select a defensman a little later in the draft, while getting enormous value in a trade.
This is the bright side to another season of injured and lackluster defense, sub-par goaltending and rookie growing pains. At this point Oilers fans will take what they can get, but what they get may just be a whole lot.