Three potential free-agent destinations should the Maple Leafs buy out Matt Murray
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have Ilya Samsonov to thank for solving some of their cap issues this summer. The restricted free-agent netminder filed for arbitration recently, which has now opened up a second buy-out window for the Leafs. Brad Treliving, meet veteran goalie Matt Murray.
Murray has become the odd man out in Toronto and was surprisingly leapfrogged by Joseph Woll during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Murray was healthy and available and coach Sheldon Keefe decided it was Woll he trusted more in a must-win game, leaving the two-time Stanley Cup champion to ride the pine.
Murray is very likely getting bought out this summer. He’ll become a $687,500 cap hit in 2023-24 and an additional $2 million in 2024-25. The savings for this season are paramount as Treliving has spent some dough this offseason and now needs to become cap compliant. The Maple Leafs still have Samsonov to account for and are likely still looking for another defenceman. Murray needs to go, he’s essentially become useless in Toronto, and once he’s a free man, look for these three teams to be in the mix:
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings added Cam Talbot on a one-year deal, and they also signed David Rittich. There’s still Phoenix Copley on the depth chart as well, but it’s obvious LA has a ton of firepower up front, they have a decent back end, but their goaltending situation is far from solved.
Murray could provide them with another competitor for their starting gig next season and considering all the goalies mentioned above are on one-year contracts, there’s little doubt Kings general manager Rob Blake is looking for someone who can run with the starting job.
Murray has two Cup rings on his resume and even though he was inconsistent last season and couldn’t stay healthy, he posted a respectable 14-8-2 record with the Leafs. He’d cost pennies on the dollar for the Kings and could become the reclamation project the team needs to once again be a playoff team next season.
The Sabres are expected to start next season with Eric Comrie and Devon Levi as their tandem, however, Murray hitting the free-agent market later this summer could spark some interest down the Q.E.W.
Levi is still just 21 years old and the jury is out if he’s NHL-ready. Comrie is trying to hold on to his NHL career and last season posted a .886 save percentage in 19 appearances. Meanwhile, the Sabres think they are a playoff team next season and they’ll need some above-average goaltending to get into the conversation. Murray could push both the unproven Comrie and the youngster Levi and take over the reins in Buffalo.
The Sabres have close to $7 million in cap space to still work with this summer and once Murray gets bought out, he’s likely to sign a one-year deal around $1 million. Easily affordable for the Maple Leafs’ rivals and considering how things went down for the veteran goaltender in Toronto, the ‘Matt Murray revenge tour’ could be alive and well in Buffalo.
How fitting would it be if Petr Mrazek and Murray were the one-two punch in net for the Blackhawks next season? Chicago general manager Kyle Davidson has proven he’s not afraid to bring in some veteran talent to the rebuilding Blackhawks and Murray could become a target later this offseason.
There’s going to be so much attention on Connor Bedard next season, Chicago could be the perfect landing spot for Murray. The expectations would be low, it would be a low-risk high-reward type of signing and considering he’s only 29 years old, there’s still a chance he finds his game and eventually lands another multi-year contract.
Health is a concern, but if Murray is healthy and ready to jump in, he could be at training camp in Chicago this fall. They have the resources to sign him, they have a need for another veteran in net and they have a competition for the starter’s job which is wide open.
A reclamation project on a rebuilding team with low expectations, sounds like the perfect spot to sign.
The Maple Leafs have some major business still to come this summer. William Nylander and Auston Matthews need extensions, Samsonov needs a new contract and there’s still likely another defenceman addition on the way. As for Murray, he appears to be an afterthought at this point and is training hard this offseason to be fully prepared for yet another ‘comeback’ season. He just shouldn’t expect it to be in Toronto.
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