The Kootenay Ice bolstered their future ranks in the WHL Bantam Draft on Thursday, selecting six forwards, three defencemen, and a goaltender in ten rounds.
The Ice had the 10th overall pick in the first round, and used it to select Troy Murray, a 14-year-old defensemen out of White City, Saskatchewan.
If the Murray name sounds familiar, it's because his older brother, Ryan, skates for the Everett Silvertips and is projected to be a first round pick in this year's NHL Draft.
The 10th overall selection was the highest pick the Ice have had since 2004 when the team drafted defenseman John Negrin seventh overall.
Murray, 14, spent the last season in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA League, playing for the Prairie Storm, which made it into the league final, but lost out to the North East Wolfpack.
In 23 games, he scored six goals and notched 12 assists.
When it came to the first selection, Ice head scout Garnet Kazuik said that he had five forward names that he wasn't willing to pass on, but they were all taken by the time it came to Kootenay's selection.
But Murray was still available when Kootenay's pick came up in the opening round, and Kazuik snapped him up.
"We had a couple defenseman in mind, but we took him at the top of the list and we're extremely happy with that pick," said Kazuik. "He's probably one of the most improved players in the '97 draft-there's two or three guys this year that were the most improved and he was one of them.
"We just like his improvement, his upside, he doesn't panic under pressure, he makes great plays, he makes players around him better, and that's crucial. So that weighed heavily for us and we're just excited to get him."
Kazuik followed up with another defensive pick in the second round, selecting blueliner Dylan Overdyk out of St. Albert, AB.
The draft can take on a life of it's own as the 22 WHL franchises vie to build their futures by picking bantam aged players that will best fit into the club.
Different clubs can place a higher or lower value on the same prospect.
With that in mind, Ice staff meets as an organization and goes over a comprehensive list of prospects to plot the future direction of the team, said general manager Jeff Chynoweth.
"Sometimes that comes to fruition, sometimes it doesn't, but everyone leaves the draft table feeling good about what they've selected," Chynoweth said.
"The true test of our draft and how successful it is, is probably in three years."
As part of the wheeling and dealing throughout the day, the Ice traded their fifth-round pick to the Everett Silvertips and acquired 18-year-old forward Jordyn Boyd.
The Ice may have seven returning overage players returning, but are only allowed three on the roster. The 1994- and 1993-born players-with only Levi Cable and Erik Benoit-are where the forward department of the team is hurting.
"As young as we are, we might have as many as eight or ten 1995-born players on our roster next year, and possibly a couple of 16-year-olds," said Chynoweth. "That's a little young and when you've only got one returning 1994 forward and only one returning 1993 forward, you gotta help those young guys. You gotta give those young guys a chance to be successful."
Boyd was already on the Ice's radar, having been scouted three years ago, but was picked in the sixth round of the 2010 WHL Draft by the Silvertips.
The Ice general manager was able to keep tabs on Boyd this past season by taking in as many Silvertips games as he could because his son, Ryan, was also a part of Everett's roster.
"I know our scouting staff, when the '94 [birth year] draft came around, they liked Jordyn Boyd so obviously you always watch those players develop with other teams, but you don't forget them from when you scouted them as a Bantam," Chynoweth said.
The first overall selection went to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who picked Mathew Barzal, a forward from Coquitlam, who plays with the Burnaby Winter Club Bantam A team.