The Habs appear to have added some toughness to their blueline on Thursday
morning as the club announced that they have agreed in principle on a one year,
one-way contract with defenceman Douglas Murray. Financial terms of the
deal were not disclosed although early reports suggest he’ll receive $1.5
million. The Swedish-born blueliner played a combined
total of 58 games with San Jose and Pittsburgh last season.
At 6’3 and 245 lbs, Murray instantly becomes the Montreal’s biggest
defenceman by a considerable margin. He is known primarily for his
physical style as he collected 89 hits in 43 regular season games in 2012-13
while adding another 29 in 15 postseason contests. He’s also an adept shot
blocker, dropping in front of 98 shots during the regular season plus 25 more in
the playoffs. By comparison, Andrei Markov ranked 2nd on the
Canadiens in blocks with 60 last year so Murray will help in that area as well.
One aspect that the 33 year old will not help in is offence. He has
eclipsed the one goal plateau in the NHL precisely once during the regular
season (scoring four times in 2009-10) although he did add a pair of tallies
during the Penguins’ most recent playoff run. He isn’t going to log a ton
of minutes either as his career average is 17:31 which is also in the area of
the playing time he received last season although his ATOI dropped to just over
15 minutes in the playoffs.
The defenceman had spent his entire career with San Jose prior to the trade
deadline this past year. Murray was dealt to Pittsburgh prior to the
deadline in exchange for a 2013 2nd round pick plus a conditional second
contingent on him re-signing with the Penguins. Since he didn’t, that pick
becomes a third rounder. In 465 career regular season games (all but 14 of
which were with San Jose), he collected seven goals, 55 assists, and 370 PIMS.
He also has played in 72 postseason contests, adding four goals, nine assists,
and 78 PIMS.
Murray should contend for a third pairing role with the Habs, jockeying for
ice time with incumbents Francis Bouillon and Davis Drewiske, plus rookie Jarred
Tinordi. On the surface, it would appear that this move may push Tinordi
out of an opening night role with the big club, something we had expected would
be the case with Alexei Emelin on the shelf to start the season. If
Tinordi and Murray comprise a bottom pair though, it would be one of the more
rugged duos we’ve seen in Montreal for quite some time.
Once made official, the signing will give the Canadiens 49 players under
contract, four of which are junior aged players whose deals will slide a year
unless they play ten or more games with Montreal this upcoming season. As
a result, there is still a bit of room under the limit to add a player or two