This is a profile that was done for my patrons last month. Blake Murray is one player that will be with the Hurricanes for the Prospects Showcase in Nashville, so Canes fans should get to know him here!
Drafted 6th round, 183rd overall in 2019
Weight: 187 pounds
Current team: Sudbury, OHL
Murray has a few tools that could set him up for NHL success. He struggles with consistency and occasionally will wait for the play to come to him, but I really do like a lot of what he brings to the table. He’s tall, skates well, has a great shot, and is strong on the puck. The issue in Murray’s game is his consistency and his compete level. There are a lot of times where he’ll stand around and lose track of his man in the defensive zone, and there are times where he won’t be as much of a threat offensively because of his lack of effort. His vision isn’t the best, although he does think the game well. I think the biggest issue with Murray’s vision is the fact that once he gets going in the offensive zone, he’s just looking for opportunities to shoot. Very rarely does he look for the pass. These issues caused Murray to fall all the way to the sixth round, where the Hurricanes took a chance on him. Most scouting services had Murray ranked as a late third round pick, a fourth round pick, or an early fifth round pick, so there’s some value here.
- Fantastic shot. One might even say that his one-timer is elite. He has a quick shot and rarely fails to capitalize on his opportunities. If he even sees a little bit of space, he’ll find a way to put the puck in the back of the net. He doesn’t have a whole lot of skill in one on one scenarios but still finds a way to beat the goalie on breakaways. His shots are great for rebound opportunities and are often tough for goalies to handle since they’re so quick.
- Strength on the puck. He’s able to create offensive chances due to his strength. He’ll win a puck battle, outmuscle a defender to get to a loose puck, and win some board battles. You’ll see Murray outwork a defender in order to pick up a loose puck and score. The effort is there, he just has to learn how to put that effort forth consistently.
- Speed. He doesn’t have elite speed, but Murray is fairly quick. His long stride allows for him to gain separation from defenders and create chances. He needs to work on his first two steps, but his acceleration is a lot better than some other OHL players.
- Zone entries. He often isn’t the one to carry the puck into the zone, but when he does, he usually enters the zone successfully and his line generates a scoring chance or two. Part of this is due to having played on a line with Quinton Byfield occasionally, who is arguably the best OHL player in this draft.
- Consistency. It hurts his performance in all three zones and can lead to you getting frustrated by how he’s playing a lot of the time. Standing around is almost never a good idea in hockey, and so you’d like to see him moving his feet a little more. A lot of his issues with consistency stem from a lack of effort. There are times when he’ll be fantastic and work hard, but he’ll follow up shifts like that with a couple of really bad efforts. As soon as he establishes consistency, he’ll be a much more dangerous player.
- Occasional tunnel vision. Remember how Julien Gauthier would exclusively look for a shot in his draft year and the following season? That’s how Murray operates right now. There are times when he’ll look to make the pass, but more often than not, he’ll look to shoot. Out of his 20 assists this season, I’d say that five or six were off of shots that he created. That’s not a bad thing, but it just shows that he needs to look for the pass a little more.
- I’d like to see Murray use his strength more. He has the potential to be fantastic on the forecheck, but he seems hesitant to get involved in the play at times. At 6’2” and almost 190 pounds, he should be able to have a more commanding presence in the offensive zone.
Murray has NHL potential, although I doubt that we see him in the NHL for a long time. There’s a lot to like about how he plays. He has the makings of a power forward that can score goals, something that’s incredibly valuable in the NHL. If he does make it to the NHL, we’ll likely see him in a bottom six role and possibly on the second power play unit, depending on whether or not his dangerous shot can translate to the NHL. If that happens, the Hurricanes will be getting fantastic value from their sixth round pick. You’re in for the long haul with Murray, but the potential reward is quite nice.