New Jersey Devils: Ryan Murray is the ideal improvement project
In hockey circles in the terrific state of Ohio, Ryan Murray will permanently be known as a bust.
Unfair? Eh, possibly a little bit, however what else do you anticipate when a franchise takes a ‘can’t-miss out on defenseman’ 2nd general, particularly when players like Mathew Dumba and Morgan Rielly have considerably surpassed the Everett Silvertips prospect.
Let’s simply state when a team trades a top-2 pick for a fifth-rounder 8 years down the line; it’s probably not going to decrease as a W for the franchise, even if the 2012 NHL Entry Draft isn’t precisely declared for its generational talent swimming pool.
However hey, it’s cool. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ garbage can be another franchise’s treasure – which is precisely what the New Jersey Devils were banking on when new GM Tom Fitzgerald managed an offer to acquire the 27-year-old back in October.
Objectively speaking, Murray isn’t a bad gamer per se. When he’s healthy, delighted, and in excellent spirits, he can actually be a vital cog in an excellent defensive rotation; he just hasn’t remained healthy all that typically over the previous 7 years.
Because making his NHL debut in 2013, Murray has actually just played a full 82 game season as soon as, all the way back in 2015-16. Ever since, he’s just played 187 of a possible 316 games and has actually missed out on two of heaven Jackets’ last four playoff appearances.
If you’re a team like the Blue Jackets who are gunning for an area in the Finals with a near-maxed out wage cap scenario, devoting $4.7 million to a player like that just does not make good sense. But for a group like the Devils, who are effectively using the 2020-21 NHL season as a 56 game tryout, his capabilities on the ice far surpass deep space left if he is unable to go.
In Murray, the Devils suddenly have a respectable defensive top-four and an ideal player to combine up with P.K. Subban – presuming, naturally, the team does not rather give Will Butcher the nod on the top-line and play their most recent defensive acquisition alongside Damon Severson. They likewise, interestingly enough, have another veteran who can help fellow first-round choice Ty Smith shift to the NHL level, where he will officially be beginning the 2020-21 season after being kept in the team’s initial roster trimdown.
Like Murray, Smith is a WHL alum with top-four potential and a two-way game. In an ideal world, Smith will one day cement himself as the kind of gamer you can build a powerplay around, which was the kind of player Columbus imagined when they utilized their second general choice in the 2012 Entry Draft on a defenseman over plucky center Alex Galchenyuk.
Murray is just 27-years-old after all, he might still play in the NHL for a very, long time if he takes a page out of Zdeno Chara’s health plan.
Perhaps Murray can rehab his profession in the Garden State, function as a solid good example for children like Smith and Kevin Bahl, and parlay a bounceback season into a multi-year deal in the $3ish million AAV variety. Heck, maybe Murray plays so well that agreement comes from the Devils, and he ends up being some amalgamation of foundation player Columbus pictured after all. But in either case, the New Jersey Devils are a better team with Ryan Murray on their lineup in 2020-21, which is really all you can request for in exchange for a late-round future choice.