Matt Murray is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. If he wins a third, it’s not likely going to be with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins recently announced a new contract for Murray’s running mate, Tristan Jarry, and that all but does it for Murray in Pittsburgh. With Jarry’s new three-year deal, and limited cap space left to play with, the Penguins will now, as they’ve continued to do, try to deal Murray for some cheaper help upfront.
Why Jarry Over Murray?
By all accounts, the Pens’ mindset is that Jarry is a year younger, has enjoyed more success lately, and is coming off an All-Star season; sports is always a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business. Even though Murray is only 26 and has almost as many playoff games as Jarry has career games, the Penguins have seen something in Murray’s game that has scared them away, despite his championships. Meanwhile, Jarry’s .921 save percentage is something the Penguins could get used to for the next three seasons.
The goalie market has never been hotter, and Murray is at the center of attention this offseason, through no fault of his own and likely the last place he wants to be.
Murray Can Blame Jim Rutherford for the Spotlight
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has been as open and honest as ever lately, providing what seems like up-to-the-minute updates on his trade negotiations. Recently he met with Josh Yohe of The Athletic and admitted offers were on the table for Murray, but a qualifying offer would be his next step (from ‘Jim Rutherford opens up on plans for Penguins’ Matt Murray, Jack Johnson,’ The Athletic, 09/30/2020).
Murray is coming off a three-year deal with a $3.75 million annual cap hit, and on his next deal, he will likely see a boost. Judging by the goalie market, he will likely sign for somewhere in the $5 million range.
He may have to wait a year for a long-term deal, or perhaps it will be part of trade negotiations, regardless, the Thunder Bay, Ontario product appears to be on his way out of Pittsburgh.
Where Does Matt Murray End Up?
The Flames have been as active as any team this offseason trying to upgrade their roster. From goaltending to defense, they are expected to make major changes and adding Murray would be a huge kick-start. While Rutherford would love a first-round pick for Murray, Sam Bennett would likely do the trick.
Toronto Maple Leafs
If the Toronto Maple Leafs end up moving on from Frederik Andersen, Murray appears to be the favorite to take over their crease. His relationship with Maple Leafs coach, Sheldon Keefe and general manager, Kyle Dubas has been well documented and dates back to his junior career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
This familiarity could lead Murray to the big smoke of Toronto. Maple Leafs top goalie prospect Joseph Woll would likely be included in any deal between the two clubs.
The Chicago Blackhawks appear set to be moving on from Corey Crawford and are in desperate need of a ‘goalie for the future.’ They could offer Malcolm Subban, Zack Smith and a high draft pick to facilitate a deal. This option gives the Penguins a reasonable backup for Jarry, and Smith, who can provide some sandpaper to the Pens’ bottom-six. Smith is entering the last year of his contract, which is music to the ears of the cost-saving Rutherford.
It won’t be long before our questions are answered and Rutherford lands on a deal he likes. One thing is certain, in any deal for Murray, expect the Penguins to save money, as the team tries to maneuver through a flat salary cap and a crowded crease.
Tik tok, Mr. Rutherford.