Weight: 185 pounds
Date of birth: July 5, 2001
Hometown: Uxbridge, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 1, 7th overall, 2017 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: pre-season, November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 111th North America
A native of Uxbridge, Ontario, Sudbury Wolves’ pivot Blake Murray played his Minor Midget AAA with the Whitby Wildcats during the 2016-2017 season compiling 29 goals and 26 assists in a 35-game campaign. He would follow that up with 3 goals and 7 assists in 6 playoff games with the Wildcats.
At the OHL Cup, Murray would score 1 goal and a helper in 5 games for the Wildcats and a goal to go along with 3 helpers at the OHL Gold Cup with Team OMHA Black. The Wolves would use their 7th overall pick at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection to nab the offensive Murray.
At the time of his OHL Draft, Central Scouting had this to say:
Blake is a big centre that has the ability to take the game over when he wants to. He is a powerful skater that is explosive off the mark. He has the ability to beat defenders wide with speed and takes the puck to the net with authority. Blake makes the players around him better and is a constant threat on the ice. He shoots the puck extremely well and isn’t afraid to use it. Blake is a big centre that all teams love to have and if he continues to develop he will be a dominate player at the next level.
Last season, Murray broke onto the OHL scene and the Wolves immediately put him in the position to be their go-to guy, leading the team in goals (21) and points (44). The Wolves’ reliance on Murray was evident as he was the only rookie to lead his team in offence. Only Andrei Svechnikov (40) and Arthur Kaliyev (31) finished with more goals.
Murray did not have the best start to this season and was even in a funk coming out of the Christmas break. But since mid January he’s been on an excellent pace scoring 12 goals and 7 assists in 15 games. More importantly, he’s found a consistency only going back-to-back once in that span without producing a point.
The knock on Murray throughout the season has been that he lacks consistency from game to game and sometimes shift to shift. He certainly has the skill set to be a difference maker and maintaining the level of consistency he’s found now offensively could play a huge role on how high he gets drafted come June.
Standing 6’3”, Murray is a big body. But at just 185 pounds, he is going to have to add some much-needed bulk. He’s a very good skater and as long as adding the necessary bulk doesn’t affect his stride we aren’t going to worry about his feet. He’s good on the forecheck and goes into battle along the walls, but again, adding muscle will be key for him going forward.
Murray isn’t afraid to take the puck to the net himself. He’s surprisingly strong on his skates and uses body position extremely well to protect the puck, and he can do that at top speed. Despite being a shooter first, Murray does have soft hands and very good vision and the ability to become an effective playmaker.
On the dot, the Wolves’ coaching staff does not shy away from allowing Murray to take key draws. He’s won 54% of his faceoffs – good for second among draft eligible players.
On the defensive side of the puck, Murray shows an understanding of three-zone play. He knows where to be on the ice and most of the time he puts in a concerted effort. Finding that consistency mentioned earlier is important going forward.
There is enough time remaining in the season and playoffs to prove he is worthy of a higher selection then where Central Scouting has him ranked. One independent scouting service had him ranked second from the OHL behind only Kaliyev coming into this season. The skill set is certainly there.
Now is the time to prove it.