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DRAFT CENTRAL: Murray Is The Man

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

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 and JacketsTV -- stay tuned to our Draft Central blog as we continue our coverage!

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