The recent signing of Douglas Murray has garnered some mixed reaction from
the Habs’ fanbase. Some are thrilled to add a big defenceman that can throw the
body around while others lament his diminishing role in recent years and
question whether or not he’ll be able to stay in the lineup regularly. Our
writers have had time to ponder the contract, are they for or
against the signing?
Matt Dilworth: "I can’t be a bigger fan of this acquisition; at $1.5M for one year, the
Canadiens take on barely any risk for a player that addresses a glaring need.
With the injury to Alexei Emelin (and the mostly speculative timetable of his
return), Murray fits into the considerable void that was exploited by the
Ottawa Senators in last season’s playoffs. Although Murray is likely
incapable of top-4 minutes, he brings a physicality and strong defence that
will help out at even strength and shorthanded situations. A lot of fans
were clamouring for Jarred Tinordi to get extra minutes, which in my opinion,
is a lot to ask of a relatively inexperienced defenceman. This becomes
unnecessary with Murray in the fold, and the Canadiens now have considerable
depth at the blue-line. This will serve well if/when injuries arise, and a
little internal competition may serve Montreal well."
Brian La Rose: "I’m not the biggest Murray fan out there as
there are a lot of weaknesses to his game, particularly in his own zone where
his lack of mobility becomes a problem. However, he provides a style of
play that no one else on the bottom pairing can bring to the table, allowing
Michel Therrien the ability to mix-and-match which will come in handy in certain
matchups. (Tinordi could play that role right away but I’ve long believed
that he still needs some AHL time to fully maximize his potential, this signing
makes it easier for him to start in Hamilton.) His willingness to block
shots is also a strength and should take a bit of pressure off of Josh Gorges
and P.K. Subban in that area. Murray’s reputation no longer matches his
actual playing ability but he can still bring something to the table and on a
one year deal with a price that falls around ‘slightly better than a depth
defenceman’ territory, there’s little risk here."
Alex Létourneau: "Not an earth shattering move by Marc Bergevin but an excellent depth move for
the Canadiens’ back end. Murray is a big guy who can clear the net,
distribute some punishment while instilling a physical presence on the blueline. Expect his biggest impacts to shine through against the bigger teams in
the East. He does what’s asked of him and a one year contract at $1.5 million is
very reasonable. It should be noted that he’s not the most gifted skater, so
fans shouldn’t lose their minds when he does get burned. There is more upside
than downside in this signing. Maybe it was a wedding gift for Carey Price?"
Matt Macaskill: "Murray is a safe signing by Bergevin. The Habs have a few
solid prospects on defence, but counting on them to adopt important roles at the
NHL level right out of the gate might not be the best plan for success. The
Murray signing gives the team more options heading into the 2013-2014 season.
They can choose to keep Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu in the AHL to play first
minutes if they wish. This would allow them more ice time on special teams
as well, which would only bolster their confidence and better prepare them for
duty with the Habs.
When Bergevin surveyed the available UFA defencemen, I imagine Murray was
the most attractive because he’s low maintenance. At 33-years old, the team
doesn’t need to spend resources developing him. At a 1-year, $1.5M contract, the
team hasn’t over-committed to him and hold the option to move him via trade,
waivers, or as a UFA when his contract expires. Best of all, Murray is a big
blueliner with a mean streak. He’ll be a handy sixth defenseman in games this
year against division rivals such as the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs."
Kevin Meldrum: "I believe Murray is exactly what the Canadiens
need on defence, a big, physical, stay-at-home crease-clearing defenceman that
they will certainly need to compete with the bigger teams in their conference.
Murray will give Montreal quality minutes on the PK which was a sore point at
best last year, and he should be a great third pairing d-man that could also
fill in some minutes on the top four. Yes, he has slow foot speed, but he is
smart to force players to go to the outside and cut the forwards off heading to
the net while adding toughness, courage, and strength to a weak defence corps.
This move also allows Tinordi and Beaulieu more time to develop their skills in
Hamilton and be more prepared for callups during the season while being a great
fill-in until Emelin returns."