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Friday, June 22, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.

Silvertips' Ryan Murray expected to go high in NHL draft

By Jim Riley
Special to The Seattle Times

Ryan Murray is smart. The Everett Silvertips captain won't say which team he hopes selects him in Friday's NHL entry draft in Pittsburgh, nor will he say which team he grew up rooting for.

"To tell you the truth, I have always cheered for the teams that were Canadian that went farthest in the playoffs. I didn't really cheer for anybody in the regular season," Murray said from Pittsburgh after taking batting practice at PNC Park, the baseball home of the Pirates.

Murray, from White City, Sask., did not belt any home runs, but that shouldn't hurt his draft standing.

He has been climbing the draft rankings all season. The final one from the NHL Central Scouting Bureau listed the defenseman No. 2 behind Nail Yakupov, a right winger from Russia.

Murray has met with NHL teams the past three days and is scheduled to talk with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hold the second pick.

The Edmonton Oilers have the top pick, followed by Columbus and the Montreal Canadiens.

The Oilers need defensive help, but said they are open to a trade.

"I really have no idea," Murray said. "No one is really giving out any hints. It's their pick, so I'm just trying to stay as positive as I can. Everybody wants to go high, but it doesn't matter that much. It's what you do after the draft. It's not a big deal when or where I go."

Murray is a hockey prodigy who became the second-youngest to play for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships last year, helping win a bronze medal.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Murray, who will turn 19 in September, was named Everett's captain at age 17. The honor usually is reserved for older players.

He is eligible to return to the Western Hockey League for two more seasons, but will almost certainly play in the NHL next season.

"My goal right now is to crack an NHL lineup next year and hope I go where I have the opportunity to do that," he said. "If that's not in the cards and they think I can develop by going back to Everett, that's what I'll do."

Last season, he played in 46 games for the Silvertips, collecting nine goals and 31 assists. He added three goals and two assists in four playoff games.

The highest Silvertips players drafted are Peter Mueller (2006, Phoenix Coyotes) and Zach Hamill (2007, Boston Bruins), both with the eighth overall pick. Former Seattle Thunderbird Thomas Hickey was taken fourth by the Los Angeles Kings in 2007.

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