Monday, 14 May 2012
05/13/12 Ryan Murray vs. Jay Bouwmeester
What if the Oilers draft Ryan Murray and he turns into Jay Bouwmeester? Would fans be happy with that choice? Picking Bouwmeester in 2002 meant the Florida Panthers had to pass on Rick Nash, and something similar would happen with Edmonton and Yakupov. Good move?
Although Jay Bouwmeester has taken his share of criticism (especially since arriving in Calgary and signing a five year contract with a $6.68 million cap hit), to think Ryan Murray could turn out just as well is a lofty expectation. Bouwmeester was third in the entire league in total minutes played this season, and was among the league-leaders in quality of competition. His 249 points since the lockout ranks 22nd of all NHL defensemen and he hasn't missed a game since 2003-04.
It's fair to say that the Oilers could use that kind of player if they're going to hope to compete in the long term, but we're a long way from crowning Ryan Murray the next JayBo. There are some common threads in their games, however.
Both are lauded for their superlative skating ability and positional play. Bouwmeester has made a very good living out of steadying the back end of his teams by knowing where to be and being able to get there - things that will be the calling card of Ryan Murray at the next level. At six feet tall and 185 pounds, Murray will probably lack the punishing physical element in his game, just like the former third overall pick in 2002.
The two defenders bring some offense, but not an overwhelming amount. When Bouwmeester was in Junior with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, he contributed 0.53 points per game as a sixteen year old, while Murray had 0.52 points per game at the same age. Bouwmeester pulls away a little in the two years after that, with 0.87 pts/g at seventeen and then a point per game at 18 years old. Murray had 0.66 pts/g and 0.67 pts/g at seventeen and eighteen. However, Bouwmeester's Tigers were well above-average offensively in the latter two years he spent there, but Murray's Silvertips couldn't score to save their lives in 2010-11 and 2011-12. The overall scoring in the WHL was very similar in the early 2000's to what it is now, so era effects aren't much of a factor.
Does any of that mean that Ryan Murray is Jay Bouwmeester in training? Of course not. But if you're looking for a comparable in style and ability at the NHL level who is the best case scenario, Bouwmeester may be it. So if the Oilers were to do what Florida did (trade down a spot or two and acquire assets along with the defenseman they want), would it be a good move?
It didn't work out for the Panthers. Florida got the option to swap first round picks with Columbus in 2003 which they never exercised, and JayBo never got the team that drafted him into the playoffs. Of course, other than Olli Jokinen's best offensive years the Florida Panthers didn't have much going for them up front. That's a problem that the Oilers shouldn't have, assuming that everything goes to plan. So if the Oilers were to be in exactly the same position and they draft Murray, they'd probably do a little better.
But that's always assuming that Murray turns out.