Columbus Blue Jackets fans lost more than just half of a hockey season this past year, they also lost the chance to get a first glimpse of 2012′s 2nd overall pick, Ryan Murray. Murray is the Jackets highest selection since Rick Nash (1st overall in 2002) and is expected to become a top defenseman for the franchise in the next few years. Before the 2012 draft, there was some debate on whether he should go first overall and was seen as being NHL ready. However, months before the new CBA was signed, Murray suffered a shoulder dislocation and required surgery that put him out of hockey for six months. With the joy of hockey returning and the excitement of the CBJ race for the playoffs, many fans forgot that Ryan Murray was on the mend. The first reminder came in late March when Murray rejoined the Jackets, albeit with the strength and conditioning staff to work further on the rehabilitation process; however, he was able to interact with the players.
The lengthy rehab process came to a close with Murray being cleared for contact shortly before this summer’s Blue Jackets Development Camp. For the first time since the injury, Murray’s skill was on display. Rob Mixer of bluejackets.nhl.com had this to say about Murray’s performance at the camp:
Days after being completely cleared for contact (and bringing his six-month rehab period to a close), defenseman Ryan Murray took the ice once again and needed about one practice to shake off the rust. While there’s minimal physical contact and – as many like to say, it’s *just* practice – you can’t ignore Murray’s elite-level skill set. He’s a hell of a player.
Ryan Murray is the future face of the Columbus Blue Jackets defense, but that does not guarantee him a roster spot. The CBJ currently have a wealth of defensive talent. In his look at the Jackets depth chart, Union and Blue’s Mark Huss had Murray listed as an extra. Without a roster spot, it is not worth having Murray up in the NHL to sit in the press box when he could be gaining valuable experience in Springfield. While he has shown his potential during Prospect Camp, Murray and the Jackets may find it more advantageous to give him some time in the AHL and call him up later in the season. The jump from Juniors to the NHL is a daunting task, even more so when you have missed the majority of the previous season. Whether he is in Springfield or Columbus, Blue Jackets fans will be paying close attention to Murray’s development this season and awaiting his NHL debut.