Brett Murray knows he’s got eyes on him.
Tucked away out of the limelight in the Junior-A Central Canadian Hockey League, the 17-year-old finds himself ranked 73rd among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft.
While thrilled to crack the list, the Carleton Place Canadians forward admitted that having his name on it doesn’t change much.
But at least now he knows for certain that he’s garnered the attention of NHL scouts.
“It’s a cool achievement just to be on that list,” Murray said. “It doesn’t mean you’ve been drafted, but it means people are looking at you and it means your name is out there.”
Murray is one of two CCHL players listed by the NHL CSS. He is joined by Canadians teammate, defenceman Grant Owen, who’s ranked 138th.
As a rookie, Murray is locked in a tie for 23rd in CCHL scoring with 14 goals and 44 assists, despite not playing since Jan. 31st because of injury. With the 2015-2016 CCHL regular season winding down, the Canadians are in a tight race with the Brockville Braves for the Robinson Division crown.
Plucked by the Oshawa Generals in the 12th round — 236th overall — of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, Murray retained NCAA eligibility by opting for Junior A following an impressive Midget season in which he scored a blistering 87 points in 66 games with The Hill Academy U16 prep team.
In July, Murray committed to Penn State University, whose men’s hockey program only recently made the move to NCAA Division 1. Prior to the 2012-2013 season, Penn State participated in the American Collegiate Hockey Association as a club team.
Murray said he’s excited to join a growing hockey movement at the Pennsylvanian institution.
“Everything they’ve got there is almost pro,” he said of his decision to commit to Penn State following a tour of the University and its facilities. “It gives you a chance to get better and to improve yourself. I know they’re a new organization, but what they’ve done already is very impressive. It was a very easy decision. I went down there and talked to the coach. It was a no brainer for me.”
The 6-foot-4, 198-pound product of Bolton, ON is touted as a natural power forward who uses his strength and size to effectively protect the puck and create scoring opportunities.
According to Future Considerations Ontario scout Daniel Deschenes, Murray could be a steal in the later rounds of the draft in Buffalo this June.
“He uses his size to his advantage, finishes his checks hard, and muscles his way through the opposition to set up in front,” Deschenes said. “He can get creative with the puck in his passing and has strong offensive upside. He has great potential and could make teams look smart in the future if he continues with this play.
“He needs to work on his first few steps and defensive coverage, but the speed is there and the quick thinking to get back on defense and slide into a defensive position is noticeable.”
Comparing his game to that of Dallas Stars center Jamie Benn, Murray agreed with the assessment.
And if things go according to plan, he’ll enter the draft a little bit faster and more nimble on his feet.
“I like to use my size down low, creating space for my teammates and my linemates,” he said, “but also when I get the puck I’m able to use my skill to create plays, create scoring chances and whenever I can, put the puck in the net.”