2017-18 Player Review: Ryan Murray
What kind of investment is this oft-injured first round pick worth?
This was a roller coaster season for Ryan Murray. Entering last summer, it wasn’t clear if Murray would even be part of the team in the fall. His name was oft mentioned in trade proposals, most notably for Matt Duchene. Of course, none of these trades materialized and Murray began the season where he left off 2016-17, on the third defensive pairing.
Murray started the season with Gabriel Carlsson before his 2016-17 partner, Markus Nutivaara, returned to the lineup. By late November, that pairing had become the second most-used pair due to the struggles of David Savard and Jack Johnson.
Then, as has been Murray’s history in all but one season, he missed a big chunk of time to injury, not playing between November 27 and February 20. By the end, John Tortorella publicly expressed his frustration with the slow pace of Murray’s recovery.
When Murray returned to the lineup, he was paired with Johnson and it did NOT go well. Fortunately, with the arrival of Ian Cole to pair with Savard, MuMurray and Nutivaara were reunited but were once again the third pairing. They played together for all 6 playoff games, as well.
Murray was best with Nutivaara, but credit for that appears to be on Nuti’s side.
The Blue Jackets face a big decision this summer with regards to Murray. He is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent. Will he get an offer sheet elsewhere? (Not likely) Will he be traded? (Still possible) I think he’ll be re-signed, but at what cost? And what term? Is he the #2 overall pick who was a top pair defenseman as a rookie in 2014, or again in 2016 when paired with Seth Jones? Or is he the third pairing defenseman of the last two seasons? Another thing to consider his his durability. He played all 82 games of this third season, in 2015-16, but only played 44 games this season and 60 last season. It may be worth signing him to a short-term “show me” contract. One example from last summer is the 1 year deal Erik Gudbranson signed with Vancouver, for $3,500,000. He was also 25 years old without a history of offensive production.
Ryan Murray Stats
Games played: 44
Time on ice: 18:26
Penalty Minutes: 8
Corsi For (even strength): 49.8%
During the 10 game win streak, the Jackets got a huge overtime victory on the road in Boston. It was Murray’s only multi-point game of the season, with the second assist coming on the game-winning goal:
The three months Murray spent on injured reserve.
How would you grade Ryan Murray’s 2017-18 season?