On Thursday afternoon, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that 22-year old defenseman Ryan Murray signed a two-year contract extension. General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen locks up one of the several RFAs-to-be this offseason and stays true to his "bridge deal" ideology.
The contract extension for Murray runs through the end of the 2017-2018 season. He will make $5.65 million with the new contract with an even $2.825 million split over each of the next two seasons - both in cap hit and actual salary.
Murray was the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. He was injured captaining the Everett Silvertips while waiting for the NHL lockout to end. He battled injures in his first two NHL seasons following that, but he is one of three Blue Jackets to appear in every game this season. Prior to Thursday night's game, Murray had registered 4-13-17 with a -3 rating in 55 games this season and 9-32-41 in 133 career regular season games. He also added an assist while playing in five games of the 2014 postseason series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This looks to be a very good deal for the Jackets, but it makes sense for both sides. Murray would have had very little leverage this summer coming off his entry-level contract and no arbitration rights. He battled injuries from 2012-2015 and has not had a breakout season in 2015-2016. The team hopes he can be a consistent top pair defender, but want to see more than a couple seasons worth of games before committing long term.
Murray will still be a restricted free agent at the end of the new contract, but will have arbitration rights. The front office still has Seth Jones, Boone Jenner, and William Karlsson, among others, to sign to new contracts before next season.