The Buffalo Sabres signed forward Brett Murray to a two-year, entry-level contract. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound winger made his professional hockey debut with the Rochester Americans last season tallying 24 points as a rookie. His strong season earned him his new contract.
The move is one of the first by first-year general manager Kevyn Adams, who took over when Jason Botterill was sent packing.
Murray’s Track to the NHL
The native of Bolton, Ontario was selected by the Sabres in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft.
In 2016, after the draft, he joined the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, playing 27 games. He then elected to enroll early at Penn State and joined the NCAA college hockey program for the second half of 2016-17. He struggled to produce and tallied a single point in 12 games. After another lackluster season for the Lions, he decided to wait out a year and transfer to Miami University.
“Playing time and the whole situation, I wasn’t progressing,” Murray said in September of his 33-game college career. “Personally, it wasn’t the best situation for me.”
During the off year, Murray rejoined the Phantoms, quickly found his game and dominated the USHL. There, he led the league with 41 goals and finished second in the league with 76 points, earning First All-Star Team honors.
Murray then joined the Sabres organization on a one-year AHL contract prior to last season and went on to lead Rochester Americans rookies with nine goals and 15 assists in 55 games.
“Brett acclimated very well to the AHL and showed continued improvement throughout the season,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. “He has a unique blend of size and scoring ability and we’re excited to see his development continue.”
Murray spent the majority of the season with Kevin Porter and Andrew Oglevie as his linemates.
A Depth Piece for the Sabres
Murray has already attended four Sabres development camps. It’s highly unlikely Murray will crack the Sabres’ roster next season. It’s expected he’ll play for the Amerks and continue to develop.
While still a young prospect, Murray needs to work on his speed and puck skills. For a big man, he moves well but needs to continue to work on his speed. His obvious allure is his size. He’s also strong along the walls.
Murray, of course, is aware that his size will only take him so far as a pro. He must be relentlessly competitive.
The 22-year-old self-proclaimed power forward brings a much-needed element of size and skill to the ice, which the Sabres desperately need in their lineup. He likes to use his size to create space for himself and his teammates and loves to get in on the forecheck.
“I’ve got the size, but also I’ve been really working on footwork, speed, chipping the puck down low, getting the puck, creating space for my linemates,” he added. “You put it all together, hopefully it makes a pro player.”
Signing Murray is a low-risk gamble to help address the team’s needs.
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”