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3 potential free agent destinations for Matt Murray

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Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
24 days ago
Matt Murray continues down the road to recovery after undergoing hip surgery last summer. With free agency looming and without a contract for next season, look for Murray to be moving on from the Toronto Maple Leafs as he looks to hit the reset button on his career.
At 30 years old, there’s still some room left on the track for Murray’s career. Even though he’s only appeared in 46 combined NHL games the past three seasons, the two-time Stanley Cup champion worked his tail off to get himself in good enough shape to play in American Hockey League games this past season and now hits the open market this summer, open to a number of possibilities about playing time
With the Leafs, Murray was very well-liked and the coaching staff always noticed how hard he was working on and off the ice. Former head coach Sheldon Keefe was very appreciative of Murray’s dedication throughout the season as he worked his way back from surgery to be a depth option for the Maple Leafs,
“It’s been tremendous, how he’s gone about things. You see him in there every day. You see him working. For most of the season it’s often by himself, and it’s often odd hours when there’s not a lot of people around. You see him doing his thing,” Keefe said of Murray.
At this point there’s been no indication from the Maple Leafs that they have mutual interest to get a deal done with Murray. Joseph Woll is in the cards for next season, Ilya Samsonov appears to be done and Brad Treliving likely hits the trade market to find Woll a tandem partner.
For Murray, it means he’ll hit the free-agent market on July 1 and here’s three potential destinations:

Pittsburgh Penguins

Kyle Dubas is as loyal as they come and loves to surround himself with people he’s comfortable with. Murray and Dubas go back to their OHL roots almost 20 years ago and there is a fit in Pittsburgh as Tristan Jarry will be back. Alex Nedeljkovic, who went from backup-to-starter is yet to re-sign with the Penguins.
Murray could sign a one-year deal at near league minimum and land himself a ‘prove it’ contract with a general manager who is always in his corner. You have to think that’s a comfortable situation for someone looking to get their career back on track and what better place to do so, in the city you’ve already won two Stanley Cups.
The Penguins have just $13 million in cap space and several holes to fill up front and on defense. With Jarry signed long-term at $5.37 million per season, bringing in an inexpensive backup who has experience carrying the load, makes a ton of sense for Dubas. Feels like this is great timing for all involved.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings appear set to move on from Cam Talbot as they’ve recently re-signed David Rittich, and now need to find a tandem partner for the veteran backstop. Murray could make some sense for Kings GM Rob Blake.
Blake has $20 million to work with in cap space but he has some extensions to navigate on his pending restricted free agents and will be looking for some help up front to replace the likely departure of Viktor Arvidsson. The Kings play a very defensive 1-3-1 style so considering their team approach to defense, they don’t necessarily need a stud No. 1 goalie to achieve results.
In his first season in Toronto, Murray went 14-8-2 and had a .903 save percentage so it’s not like he had fallen off completely as a Maple Leaf, he just got hurt. Having the experience in Murray, paired with the recent stellar play of Rittich, could be something the Kings have an appetite for heading into next season.

Winnipeg Jets

While Vezina-winner Connor Hellebuyck isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, the Jets do need a backup for next season. Laurent Brossoit was up to the task during this past season and played great, posting a 15-5-2 record along with a stellar .927 save percentage. Brossoit is expected to be hearing from a number of teams regarding potentially a bigger role next season, which could very well open up Hellebuyck’s backup duties.
Insert Murray as a legitimate option. Like Hellebuyck, Murray is a workhorse who loves to master his craft and put in the extra time away from regular practice, so this could be a bond that works well together. He would enter Winnipeg knowing his role and knowing that he’s not expected to play 40 games, he’d likely be more around the 25-30 mark. This is the type of workload he could likely handle considering he hasn’t played much these past two seasons and is coming off a serious injury.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has shown an appetite in years past to acquire players with Cup experience, which Murray also brings to the table. The Jets have just $13.6 million in cap space and some gaps to fill up front, so they’ll need to be cost-effective with their backup role and considering the low-risk high-reward type of signing Murray is, this is a match that could make a ton of sense for everyone involved.
Heading into free-agency the Maple Leafs appear to be focused on their defense core. Watch for Treliving to spend some big dollars on his blueline and look at the trade route to find Woll a tandem partner. For now, it appears Murray’s days are numbered in Toronto and the next stop of his career could come in either Pittsburgh, Winnipeg or LA.

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