The Rise and Fall of Matt Murray

Matt Murray has passed through waivers and will be assigned to the AHL’s Belleville Senators. It is Now Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson in Ottawa. 

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray clears waivers - Daily Faceoff

Murray started his NHL career at the pinnacle of hockey. He was the first goalie ever to be a repeat Stanley Cup champion while still technically being classified as a rookie as a Pittsburgh Penguin. He was so valuable to Pittsburgh, that it led to future hall of famer, Marc-Andre Fleury, departing from the team he had been with for over a decade.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray goes from sidelined to shutouts | AP News

After Fleury left Pittsburgh for Vegas, the young Matt Murray had the keys to the kingdom. He didn’t have to worry about sharing the net with anyone. During his 3 years with the starting net all to himself, his stats began to decline along with the rest of the team.

Over the next 3 seasons, after the departure of Fleury, Murray faced the adversity of a team whose roster changed a lot since the cup victory, nagging injuries, and possibly long-term effects of COVID-19.

It is hard to say what went wrong and where it did, but Matt Murray was great in his rookie days. From ages 20 to 23, Murray was taking each league he played in by storm. In his first full year of professional hockey, he proved that the AHL was too easy for him with 12 shutouts in just 40 games played. 

Entering his second pro year, the 2015-2016 hockey season, Murray left impressions everywhere. He played the majority of the regular season in the minors.

Injuries in Pittsburgh allowed him to start Game 3 at the age of just 23. He became the youngest goalie in franchise history to start in a playoff game. Despite Fleury eventually recovering from his injury and being fully able to play. He still backed up Murray the entire 2016 playoff run. Fleury had no opportunity to contribute to that Stanley Cup victory.

In the 2016-2017 year. Murray still remained the starter throughout the regular season and would have started the playoffs if it weren’t for a lower body injury in warmups of Game 1. While Murray recovered, Fleury carried the Penguins through rounds 1 and 2 and won one of the Penguins’ games in the conference finals.

After a blowout loss in Ottawa, the now healthy Murray took over for the rest of the playoffs and played just as well as the previous year’s cup run. Months later, Fleury went to Vegas in the expansion draft. 

Fans show Marc-Andre Fleury love on social media

In 2017-2018, the Penguins were forced to change things up in the roster due to the salary cap. The team was competitive that next year but not another Stanley Cup winning team. Atop of the roster’s slow decline, Murray did not have the luck to stay healthy for a full season in the rest of his tenure with the Penguins.

After the 2020 bubble playoffs concluded, Murray was traded to Ottawa. It was widely thought to be a good change of scenery and a place for him to fit in with the young team. 

Matt Murray in a Sens jersey 👀 (by @cd24_design on Insta) :  r/OttawaSenators

A year later and just 33 games played, the now 27-year-old was waived and sent down back to the minors. For 24 hours, the two time Stanley Cup winner was up for grabs for anyone who wanted him. Nobody claimed him, so Murray will stay in the organization and hopefully take time to regroup. 

Murray is only 27. There is so much time for him to find his game. His worries are also slightly lessened because of his 4-year contract signed last year.

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