The Everett Silvertips captain is getting a chance to prove his mettle against men as he was tabbed by Hockey Canada on Thursday to join the nation's contingent to the 2012 IIHF Men's World Championships.
"This is a huge honor to be able to go," Murray said Thursday via cell phone moments before boarding a plane for Switzerland.
"I'm pretty nervous," Murray added. "I've never been at that level before, every player is certainly going to be good. It's definitely going to be a challenge, and I'm excited to see how things go."
Murray, who has represented Canada internationally at every other age classification, was not technically added to Canada's roster. He was invited to take part in Canada's pre-competition camp, which began today in Zurich, Switzerland.
That means Murray can participate in practices and play in exhibition games. Canada has the option of adding Murray to the roster at a later date. The tournament takes place May 4-20 in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden.
Canada's entry to the Men's World Championships usually consists exclusively of NHL players whose teams are no longer in the playoffs. On this year's roster are such NHL stars as Anaheim forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith and Carolina goaltender Cam Ward.
Murray's being involved with that team is nearly unheard of. On rare occasions Canada has named a junior-aged player to the team. Murray, an 18-year-old defenseman from White City, Saskatchewan, is the first junior-aged player still awaiting his NHL draft who's been asked to take part since goaltender Jamie Storr in 1994.
"I was really surprised," Murray said about receiving the invitation. His agent was originally approached with the possibility shortly after Everett's season ended in late March. "I didn't think I'd get a chance to do this this year."
Murray added that he " could be there for a week, or I could be there for a month. As of now, I'm only going for the exhibition games. Hopefully, I'll get the call to stick around."
Murray has been a standout for Everett since the moment he joined the team during the 2009 playoffs as a 15-year-old call-up. He's played three full seasons with the Tips, twice being named the team's Most Valuable Player.
Last season, he had nine goals and 22 assists in 46 games and was named a second-team Western Conference all-star, despite missing 26 games because of injury and international duty.
Murray is considered one of the top prospects in this June's NHL draft, being projected to go as high as second overall. Having the chance to audition against NHL players may allow Murray to cement a position near the top of the draft board.
The Silvertips already are preparing for life after Murray as they expect him to make the jump to the NHL next season.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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