While the Boston Bruins and their fans continue to revel in the team's Stanley Cup championship victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Bruins management and scouting staff have been putting the organization's 2011 draft list together. The Bruins are on top of hockey's mountain, but they must improve if they intend to remain at that pinnacle.
The Bruins will have the ninth selection in the first round in this year's draft which will take place Friday, June 24, 2011 and Saturday, June 25, 2011 in Minnesota's Excel Energy Center.
There is no question Boston needs a player who has the skills to run the power play. The club brought in defenseman Tomas Kaberle at the trade deadline from Toronto and, although he and Dennis Seidenberg tied for the lead in points among the team's defensemen in the playoffs with 11, it has become apparent that Kaberle is not the player to run the power play.
Ryan Murphy is the premier offensive defenseman in Canadian major junior hockey. The Kitchener Ranger star is fast becoming the consensus pick for Boston. It is believed he has the ability to take control of the power play. Murphy, 18 years old, is a swift-skating defenseman with very good agility and quickness. He has that three-step quickness teams look for in all skaters—meaning, he can go from standing still to top speed, or close to it, in just three strides.
Murphy handles the puck extremely well. He likes to carry it end to end and does so at top speed routinely. He is supremely confident in his abilities and it is this confidence, combined with his strong skating ability, that makes it difficult for opponents to check him.
Murphy makes crisp tape to tape passes which will allow the forwards to break out of their defensive zone with speed.
His shot from the point is NHL ready. Murphy led all Ontario Hockey League defensemen with 79 points this past season. In 125 career OHL games, the offensive-minded defenseman has scored a total of 118 points.
In an interview with NHL.com, Central Scouting's Chris Edwards said,
"Ryan's work on the power play is outstanding, He sees the ice very well and is creative, [has] excellent passing ability and a great shot that he gets through to the net. (He's) also an excellent all-round skater. He's got real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he's going to have to concentrate on making good plays."
Murphy's coach, Steve Spott told NHL.com, "He’s like no one else in this league. You can’t get to him, you can’t hit him. He’s a kid that’s slippery, his vision is second to none, his hockey sense is second to none. He can skate and he’s got a rocket. He’s got all the intangibles to be an All-Star not only in this league, but the National Hockey League."
The website, www.thescoutingreport.org assesses the 2011 OHL 1st Team All-Star as a player who "...has the potential to be in a unique league of his own if he hits his ceiling. The Aurora, Ont. native is a dynamic playmaking defenseman who has a creative blend of speed and the ability to make highly skilled moves at top speed. At any given point he’s a threat to rush the puck up the ice and has very good vision in doing so. He’s also a very smart player on the powerplay and has utilized his shot a lot more over the past season than he did as a rookie. Defensive coverage has improved and he’s started to use his body a little more as well. Once considered a bit of a risk, we feel Murphy has entrenched himself as a blue-chip prospect regardless of some of the concerns about his game."
The Boston Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions. Most hockey fans ask, why would they look to improve? The answer can be found in the meeting rooms of the other 29 National Hockey League teams. They will be chasing Boston and doing everything they can to knock the Stanley Cup champions off their perch.
The Bruins will need to be better in 2011-2012 if they intend to stay on top of hockey's mountain. If Ryan Murphy is available when they make their selection, he could be the player who will insure Boston will not be brought down from that mountain.