Sep 23, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard (2) chips the puck past Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray (27) during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Murray: Proceed With Caution?

In his roster update post, Mark discussed the recent news that both Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner have made the Blue Jackets roster. While their preseason performance showed they deserve a crack at playing in the NHL, I have my concerns with what this means for the development of both players, particularly Ryan Murray. Coach Todd Richards has already said both players will have to earn their ice time. Does this mean Murray and Jenner will be racking up time in the press box? I certainly hope that if Murray and Jenner cannot be effective in the NHL that they are sent to the Falcons to earn top line minutes and grow as players.

Murray missed what ended up being an entire season due to a shoulder injury.  Additionally, defensemen have a much slower development curve when compared to forward prospects. I feel the Blue Jackets may be rushing Murray into the NHL lineup a little too quick. The Jackets are taking a young prospect whose last hockey experience was last year at the Junior level and skipping the AHL level. Preseason is not a perfect gauge of NHL play and I believe Murray will have some growing pains. Would it not be better for Murray to grow and develop at the AHL level and make his debut later in the NHL season?

The Avalanche have taken a more cautious approach with their defensive talent. Stefan Elliot has shown some offensive prowess, but the Avalanche have chosen to have him grow and develop in the AHL. He has been called up on several occasions to the Avalanche roster, but the majority of his time has been spent in Lake Erie. Once again Elliot will start the 2013-14 season in the AHL. While this move was surprising to fans, Patrick Roy explained his reasoning:

It was a tough decision, but at the same time, we think he needs to play. He needs to play a lot of minutes. He needs to be a No. 1 guy over there. Here, he could have been (a seventh) D-man, and I thought that would not be good for his development. [ ]

Right now Murray is slated to skate on the second defensive pairing with James Wisniewski, so as of right now he does not face the same situation as Stefan Elliot. However, if that pairing does not work out, will we see Murray fall further down and get less ice time? If that happens, he is better off on a top Defensive pairing in the AHL. I would not see it as a sign that Murray will not be a top NHL defenseman, but acknowledgement that he is a young player coming off a big injury who needs further time to develop.

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