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FUTURE WATCH | Drive and determination sets Muir on path to success

by Julie Robenhymer / Edmonton Oilers

Photo supplied by Western Michigan University.

At the 2013 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers rolled the dice on a 17-year-old playing midget major AAA in the Midwest Elite Hockey League when they used the 113th selection in the fourth round on Aidan Muir. While most NHL prospects have played AAA, very few are actually drafted out of AAA, but to understand why the Oilers were willing to take a risk with Muir you have to go back to the previous fall….when he was invited to tryout for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

"It was the same year Connor McDavid joined the team," Muir explained. "It was great to be able to play with guys I knew were at a much higher level than I was, but then to also know that I was able to keep up with them…it gave me a lot of confidence that it was still possible for me to be an outstanding player and make it to the NHL."

While he was ultimately cut from the team - the last cut, to be exact - it might have been a blessing in disguise for the Brampton, Ontario native who had moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan with his family several years prior.

"It really helped me to see where I was at as a hockey player and what I needed to work on. It was a great experience," Muir said. "Even if I had made the team, it wasn't a done deal that I'd play there because I'd likely only be playing five or six minutes a game. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity with the OHL to see where I stacked up, but I still had college hockey as my focus."

Muir went back to Victory Honda and physically dominated the MEHL. More OHL teams and USHL teams called inviting him to join them mid-season, but he turned them all down.

"We were rolling as a team and I was rolling as a player and I wanted to stay with them and play with them. I wasn't going to leave them," he explained. "We even went on a 25-game win streak that year."

But don't ask him about the playoffs that year unless you want a peek into his competitive side.

"We had some iffy goaltending in the first two periods of the semifinal and then we came back, but we couldn't finish it," explained Muir. "I missed an open net - pretty mad at myself about that. And then, we didn't even get a bid to nationals, which is ridiculous! We were #2 in the nation for most of the year and couldn't even get the wildcard. I'm still pretty pissed about that."

Clearly...

It's that drive and determination to be successful, along with his tangible on-ice skills that had junior teams clamoring for his services and ultimately earned him a scholarship offer at Western Michigan University and the #1 selection in the 2013 USHL Draft by the Indiana Ice.

"That was unbelievable. First, to be selected first overall was pretty awesome, but it also meant Victory Honda had back-to-back first overall picks in the USHL, which was pretty cool too. Everyone knows who you are when you go number one and it only helps you in the NHL Draft," Muir said as he turned his focus to June and his ultimate goal of earning the opportunity to play in the NHL.

Photo supplied by Western Michigan University

"After I got drafted in the USHL, I had some NHL teams wanting to talk with me and it was fun telling people at school that I was talking to a scout from this team or that team and I'm not even sure people believed me," he said laughing. "No one really knew I played hockey because I didn't really talk about it and they assumed that if I wasn't on the high school hockey team, I probably wasn't very good. So, I think they were pretty surprised. It's too bad the NHL Draft happened after we graduated because then I could have gone back to school and everyone would have been like. 'Oh my God…he was serious!'"

While he didn't travel to New Jersey for the draft that year, his entire extended family made the trip from Canada to Ann Arbor for their very own draft party just in case his name was called.

"It was an amazing experience. There's always a doubt in your mind that you won't go - no one really expects to get drafted out of midget major - but I was playing really well so I was pretty confident," Muir explained. "When they called my name, everyone went crazy. It was the best day of my life so far."

While helping Indiana win the Clark Cup as USHL Champions that following year, Muir learned what it meant to be a team player and how best to utilize his then 6'3, 180 pound frame.

"I learned what kind of player I am. I developed more into a power forward and a role player. Now that I was playing at a higher level with better players, I had to play within my skill set and not just try to throw the team on my back and do everything. Everyone has a specific role and you have to do your job," he explained.

This is the same message Murray is trying to reinforce while Muir is under his direction in Kalamazoo.

"He's a strong skater. He's a north-south kind of guy. When he's playing his best he's got his feet moving. His problem is when he tries to be what he's not and tries to do too much," said the former NHL coach, who also coached Canada to three gold medals at the IIHF World Championships in 1997, 2003 and 2007. "He's a power forward that can skate and has good size and is difficult to play against. He's a guy that we count on and he plays a lot of minutes for us."

The opportunity to learn from Murray was one of the big reasons Muir chose to be a Bronco.

"He is very professional and I want to learn how to be a professional and what it takes to get to the next level - the character, the intensity and the work ethic. He lets you know, on and off the ice, what he expects and what it's going to take and it's up to me to actually do it," he explained.

After off-season surgery to repair a broken collarbone that didn't heal properly, he focused his attention to his areas of improvement, which in his eyes includes all areas of his game.

"What I wanted to focus on most was to be able to protect the puck more when I'm in the corners and to be able to beat the defenseman into the corners and get to the net with the puck. I wanted to work on my foot speed and my dekes and ability to fake guys out," explained Muir, now 6'4, 210.

"My coach and I talk a lot about what it means to be a power forward - getting in on the forecheck, getting pucks to the net and whatnot - so those are the areas of my game that I really try to work on in practice and my ability to get around the D and take it wide," he continued. "I also work on my puck handling skills so I can be more of a threat when I do have those opportunities and my shot accuracy can use some work. There are a lot of things I want to work on, but I just want to take my entire game to a higher level."

That work ethic is something Murray appreciates.

"No player ever will live up to my expectations," he said. "You have to set the bar high and keep raising it. Otherwise, you get complacent and you go backwards. We ask for their best and when they give it to us, we always want more."

It's a philosophy Muir has taken to heart because he knows it's not easy to get where he wants to go, but he's more than willing to put in the time and effort to give it everything he's got and put himself in the best position possible to achieve his goals.

"I make work ethic a habit. I work hard in pretty much everything I do," he stated. "So, if I just keep woking, someone will notice and I'll have an opportunity and then I'll work hard at that and it will just never end. New doors will keep opening as long as I keep working hard. The only way I won't have a chance of playing in the NHL is if I stop working towards it and that's not going to happen.

"My teachers ask me what I'm going to major in and I don't have an answer for them. I tell them I'm going to be a professional hockey player and I'm just going to take some business classes while I'm here. There's no doubt that I'm not going to stop working to get to the NHL," Muir continued. "So I'm confident that I'm going to get an opportunity at some point. It's just a matter of being ready to capitalize on it."

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, November 25 2015

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
GREG CHASE C 20 5 0 0 0 +1 4
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 15 1 1 2 -4 27
JOSH CURRIE C 23 4 0 0 0 -2 2
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 14 5 5 10 -4 20
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 15 5 0 5 -6 8
KELLEN JONES   LW 25 1 0 0 0 -1 2
KALE KESSY   LW 22 14 2 3 5 +2 28
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 16 3 4 7 -1 7
ALEXIS LOISEAU   C 21 9 1 2 3 +3 0
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 10 2 5 7 -1 6
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 14 2 3 5 +3 36
PHILIP MCCRAE* C 23 9 2 0 2 -4 4
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 23 3 0 0 0 -1 0
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 16 1 2 3 -3 4
MARC-OLIVIER ROY* C 21 5 1 0 1 -1 0
ANTON SLEPYSHEV LW 21 8 1 0 1 -4 4
JOSH WINQUIST   LW 22 8 3 4 7 +3 20
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 12 2 3 5 -1 6
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
MARTIN GERNAT   d 23 9 0 0 0 0 0
brad hunt   D 27 16 4 8 12 -9 6
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 16 0 3 3 +5 16
DAVID MUSIL D 22 16 2 1 3 +6 10
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 10 0 4 4 -4 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 10 0 4 4 -3 4
NICK PAGEAU   D 27 10 0 1 1 -4 2
DILLON SIMPSON
D 22 6 0 1 1 -3 0
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 17 0 3 3 -1 12
GREG CHASE F 20 10 4 2 6 -3 18
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 21 4 14 18 +6 23 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 22 5 19 24   +8 14 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 21 12 2 3 5 1 12 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 13 2 2 4 0 10 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 17 1 9 10 0 12 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 10 1 0 1 -6 6 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 12 1 5 6 0 5 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 32 7 9 16 -1 18 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 28 4 14 18 +8 8 JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 10 4 4 8 0 2 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 13 5 1 6 1 53 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CHECK BACK DURING THE TOURNAMENT                 
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 14 4 8 1 4.18 .870 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 11 7 3 1 2.07 .937 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 3 1 2 0 2.02 .920 HPK HAMEENLINNA (finland)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 4 3 1 0 3.00 .878 michigan (ncaa)
BEN SCRIVENS   29 4 0 4 0 4.57 .845 bakersfield (ahl)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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