Games played: 60
Time on ice: 18:19
Penalty Minutes: 24
Corsi For (even strength): 46.12%
Ryan Murray is coming off a disappointing season where he was bit once again by the injury bug, but this time around he may have also been passed on the depth chart.
The emergence of rookie Zach Werenski last season saw Murray moved to the third pairing, and with that came a drop in ice time by almost five minutes per game from the previous season. When he was in the lineup, he played mostly with Markus Nutivaara but the late-season addition of first round pick Gabriel Carlsson has added even more competition for ice time.
The former second overall pick is at a crossroads. He needs to cement himself as a top-four defenseman, worthy of the second overall selection. He needs to force the Jackets to park Carlsson in Cleveland, and to keep Scott Harrington in the press box. Murray won’t be a major point producer, but his time is now to lock himself into a spot in the lineup.
The expansion draft may change things, say, if Jack Johnson is somehow claimed. However unlikely, if Johnson were to move Murray and David Savard could be the shutdown pair that Johnson and Savard were last season.
More likely we may see Murray dealt. He’s still got value as a top pick, and his age means he may not have maxed out yet. This would be a bit of a gamble for the Jackets however, as the players he’s fighting for ice time are talented, but very young and inexperienced. When does this hypothetical trade take place? If a team offers a sweet deal at the draft for him, the management will have to forecast whether or not they think Carlsson is ready for full-time duty. Do they wait to see if he has a committed, successful summer and training camp and take his name off the table, and if he doesn’t, deal him early into the season?
If he can be paired with another asset to bring in a scoring center, great. I’d be equally happy with seeing how he fares this summer and how he does in camp too. He’ll be on of the more intriguing players to follow this offseason.