UPDATE: This just in from Blue Jackets public relations -- the club has elected to defer, and will use the Los Angeles Kings' first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. They had the option to use the first-rounder in either 2012 or 2013, per the conditions of the Jack Johnson-Jeff Carter trade in February.
The Blue Jackets' next pick in the 2012 NHL Draft is 31st overall, which will open the second round tomorrow morning.
Stay tuned for more information later tonight.
PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Murray couldn't get out of his chair fast enough.
Though he admitted the nerves didn't fully kick in until the Edmonton Oilers were on the clock with the first overall pick, there were anxious moments just before the Blue Jackets were on the clock to make their selection. He thought back to pre-draft meetings with Scott Howson and the Columbus scouting staff, and recalled the "all-business" approach during the interviews.
When his name was called, Murray strode to the stage and shook hands with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and got to meet his new hockey family.
And, as Murray said, this meeting was far more casual than the first.
"They were a lot nicer after they picked me," Murray said with a laugh.
It was a happy and proud night for Murray and his family. The 18-year-old was the consensus top defenseman in this year's draft class, and impressed scouts across the map with his smooth skating and solid play on both sides of the puck. He was the captain of the Everett Silvertips (WHL) and the club's unquestioned leader on and off the ice -- and many believe he is one of the NHL-ready prospects in this year's class.
For now, he's taking everything in stride. After all, he's been an NHL player for all of two hours, and he was thrilled to have his name called by the Blue Jackets.
"Absolutely," Murray said. "I'm really proud. I have a lot of work to do this summer. I've got to work on my game and work on getting stronger. I have a lot of hard work left to do and hopefully I'll be prepared enough to crack the lineup."
When he does eventually suit for the Blue Jackets, what kind of player can fans expect?
"I'm a two-way defenseman that can jump into the play whenever I can," Murray said. "I like to play offense, as well, but I try to take care of my own end first and foremost."
One of his new teammates that's pretty good in his own end is Marc Methot, who played with Murray at the 2012 World Hockey Championship in Europe. The tournament was bizarre (to say the least) for Murray; he was invited to the selection camp, and after a couple of injuries on Team Canada's blue line, he was forced into action as a teenager having never played against pro hockey players.
It was a great experience in terms of helping to grow his game and pick up on things the pros do, Murray said. And now that he's a member of the Blue Jackets, he knows he has six or seven solid NHL defensemen to learn from as he begins his NHL journey.
"I was only supposed to go there for about a week for the pre-competition games," Murray said. "Some guys got hurt and that kind of opened the door for me.
"It was just a great experience to go and play with those guys and practice with them, and see how they prepare themselves both on and off the ice."
NOTE: We'll have much more from tonight's first round, including comments from Howson and members of the hockey operations staff both on #CBJ.com and JacketsTV -- stay tuned to our Draft Central blog as we continue our coverage!
Ryan Murray poses on-stage with CBJ director of amateur scouting Paul Castron (left) and John H. McConnell II (right) at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
Murray slips the Blue Jackets sweater on for the first time after taking the stage.
Murray spoke with JacketsTV and several other media outlets from around the NHL during the media luncheon earlier this week.
After the luncheon, Murray and his fellow prospects posed for a neat picture atop the Empress 2 riverboat. Little did he know, he would be a #CBJ not long after!
Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray goes one-on-one with Bob McElligott of Blue Jackets radio after he was drafted second overall tonight at the NHL Draft.
It's official! Ryan Murray (D) of the Everett Silvertips was selected by the Blue Jackets with the second overall pick in this year's NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. The video above is footage from Murray's media session shortly after his selection.
There's a lot to like about the 18-year-old from White City, Sask.; he's a polished, mature kid who has a ton of hockey smarts. He said he likes to join the play and create offense, but his first priority is always to make sure his own zone is taken care of.
He was the captain of the Silvertips this past season, and was also coached by newly-appointed Blue Jackets associate coach Craig Hartsburg for two seasons.
|Ryan Murray poses on-stage after being selected by the Blue Jackets with the No. 2 overall pick.|
The Blue Jackets connections don't stop there, either -- Murray was a member of Team Canada at the 2012 World Championship, where Marc Methot was also a participant. Murray said he hasn't yet heard from his new Columbus teammate, but he expects to touch base very soon.
Stay tuned to the blog throughout the night as we recap an exciting evening at the CONSOL Energy Center!
The time has come.
We're less than 30 minutes away from the first pick being announced at the 2012 NHL Draft. CONSOL Energy Center is buzzing, and the players, their families, coaches, managements staff and others are making their way into the arena.
The draft tables are filling up, as well. Lots of chatter, excitement and anticipation before we get started -- did you expect anything less? This is annually one of the most intriguing events in the NHL, and this year is no different. The "controversy" atop the draft order is compelling; will the Edmonton Oilers take top-ranked Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick, or will they explore other options to address a need on defense?
What will the Blue Jackets do? Who will be available when it's their turn to pick? Keep up-to-date with everything as we get under way -- you will NOT want to miss any of the action from the draft floor!
JOIN THE BATTLE!
One of the most intriguing names near the top of the NHL Draft rankings is Sarnia Sting center Alex Galchenyuk, the Russian-American born in Milwaukee and who played alongside Nail Yakupov for a couple of seasons.
Galchenyuk seems to be the wild card among all the projected top picks, mainly due to a knee injury he suffered early in the 2011-12 season. He missed all but two regular-season games, but returned in time for the OHL playoffs. We've spoken to several people this week who said that had Galchenyuk played the entire season, he would stand a strong chance of being the No. 1 overall pick tonight at CONSOL Energy Center.
"Gally" and Yakupov are good friends and play off each other well, especially when the cameras are around. NHL Central Scouting has compared Galchenyuk's style of play to Blackhawks sniper Marian Hossa -- a strong, two-way player who can change a game in an instant.
We spent some time with Galchenyuk and had a pretty good conversation. Read his comments below, and check out the video courtesy of JacketsTV.
On the chances of him playing in the KHL:
"I'm not. There's not a chance I'll go there. I don't want to play there, I want to play in the NHL and have since I was a little kid. Everyone keeps asking me that question."
Have you had to deal with those questions because of your family name?
"A little bit. Obviously, a lot of people have asked me why I chose (to represent the U.S.) when my whole family is Russian. Like I said before, I just want to play for USA Hockey and I consider myself an American even if my parents are Russian. I was born in the States, I love the country and I want to play for them."
|Galchenyuk during a 2010-11 game with the Sarnia Sting (OHL).|
On assuring teams about the recovery from his knee injury:
"I did a lot of rehab and working hard in the gym. I just want to make sure the teams know that they're confident in drafting me. I think the teams that are (serious about drafting him) are confident in my knee. Whatever team I land with, when I go see the doctors they're going to say the knee looks great, and good job on the rehab."
What do you like to do away from the rink?
"I like to play XBox. Call of Duty. I'm pretty good. Sometimes go to movies...there's not a lot of things to do in Sarnia."
What part of your game is the best, in your mind?
"I think just my skillset. I see the ice and make plays in tough situations, and my passion for the game."
What do you need to work on to become an elite NHL player?
"I'm only 18 years old, and there are men playing (in the NHL). I want to become an overall, complete player and work on the small details like face-offs, and just stronger, faster, quicker...work on my strengths, too."
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson spoke with the media shortly after acquiring goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers. JacketsTV was on hand for his comments.
PITTSBURGH -- One of Scott Howson’s priorities heading into this offseason was to upgrade the goaltending position, and the Blue Jackets GM believes he has made a step in that direction today.
Columbus acquired goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon, mere hours before the start of the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old previously spent his NHL career as the No. 2 goaltender for the Flyers, and this past season, played 26 games behind free-agent signee Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Blue Jackets saw a young goaltender with loads of talent, and opted to move on it. And with the market for goaltenders becoming thin over the past week, Howson knew the time was right to capitalize on the opportunity.
“The market is drying up a bit, in terms of those (goalies) available for trade,” Howson said. “We’ve had our eye on Sergei for a while, so it was just time to step up and make the move.
“We did a lot of work on the goaltender market. (Goaltending coach Ian Clark) is convinced that this guy has a chance to be a No. 1 goalie. We checked out his character, how hard he works and how competitive he is.”
After seeing goaltenders like Anders Lindback get traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and potential free agents such as Josh Harding re-sign with their clubs, Howson knew that time was of the essence to check a significant item off his shopping list.
He and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had been discussing a deal for Bobrovsky for about two weeks, Howson said. They decided that a deal based on draft pick compensation was best for both parties, then agreed to a deal on Friday morning.
“It was a top priority to get (a goalie) either through trade or free agency,” Howson said. “It became a very high priority for us.”
Bobrovsky was not drafted by the Flyers, but signed to an entry-level contract in 2006 after he played for Metallurg in Russia. He turned a lot of heads during his rookie season in Philadelphia, posting 28 wins in 54 appearances, while posting a 2.59 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
With the arrival of Bryzgalov this season, playing time dipped for Bobrovsky, but he was still solid when given a chance in net. He’s regarded as a creative and athletic goaltender, who has the ability to make tough saves look easy and make saves he shouldn’t be able to.
More to come on this story as it develops.
UPDATE: #CBJ fans, don't forget -- our 2012 NHL Draft radio show begins tonight at 7 p.m. on 1460 ESPN. Tune in to get the scoop on what's happening on the draft floor. The show runs until 9 p.m. and will have wall-to-wall coverage of all things draft-related!
Happy Friday, live from Pittsburgh! Thanks for following along with our NHL Draft Central blog on BlueJackets.com - we've got a TON of coverage planned for tonight's first round of the draft, from interviews, videos, breaking news and much more.
Here's a brief rundown of what we have planned today:
-- Jeff Rimer chats with Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, to be aired on JacketsTV
-- Rob Mixer's Draft Central live blog, to be updated with news and interviews throughout the day
-- Interviews with Alex Galchenyuk and Ryan Murray
-- Tweets from @BlueJacketsNHL and @RobMixer live from the draft floor!
-- Our daily recap show with Rimer and Bob McElligott following tonight's first round
Keep it tuned to the blog for your #CBJ draft coverage!