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Murray lets season, not one tournament, be his guide

Tuesday, 06.25.2013 / 10:43 AM | Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

Tampa Bay Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said he would prefer an accumulation of information over the course of a full season rather than single out one particular tournament in making final evaluations of prospects leading up to the draft.

Murray was asked if he felt the Memorial Cup performance by center Nathan MacKinnon of the champion Halifax Mooseheads would influence those teams who might have had defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks at the top of the their draft board.

"I can't speak for everyone else, but I know the way we think is an accumulation of information and not just one event," Murray told NHL.com. "The last event you see always sticks in your mind, but if you flipped the Memorial Cup to Christmas time and put World Junior Championship in April, then you'd have Seth Jones No. 1 because Seth had a dominant tourney there.

"Nathan played well [at the WJC], but his role with the team wasn't an offensive role with Team Canada and was more of an energy role. But the last time you see a player oftentimes influences people."

MacKinnon, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, had 32 goals, 75 points and a plus-40 rating in 44 regular-season games. In 17 playoff games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he had 11 goals and 33 points to help lead Halifax to the President Cup. He then won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player of the Memorial Cup after totaling seven goals and 13 points in four games.

Jones finished with 14 goals, 56 points and a plus-46 rating in 61 regular-season games in the Western Hockey League, then had five goals, 15 points and a plus-15 rating in 21 playoff games to lead Portland to the league title. At the 2013 WJC, he had a goal, seven points and a plus-8 rating in seven games as the U.S. won the gold medal.

"We've been watching Seth and Nathan for two years and we've seen them in all kinds of tournaments," Murray said. "If you're doing your job properly you would balance all of those events, get an accumulation of reviews and then get a consensus of where guys are.

"You're trying to project who will be the best NHL player for years and years, which means players at this age have development to do. I don't think one event should have that much of an impact if you're looking at who will be the best player for a long time."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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