Could Matt Murray be the answer to the goal?


This season, the Detroit Red Wings goaltender duo, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier, were under siege almost every night. In Howard’s case, he had an appalling record of 2-23-2 and a save percentage (SV%) of just 882%. Bernier fared a little better, with an SV% of 0.907%, but was mostly helpless given the team’s ineptitude in front of him.

Related: Steve Yzerman – The Captain

Howard seems to have played his last game with the Red Wings, and perhaps entirely in the NHL. Bernier, who turns 32 in August, has only one season left on his contract and is far from the long-term answer sought by the Red Wings. Despite his status as a team player this season, he could end up in another team’s jersey before the end of the 2021-2022 season.

Jonathan Bernier Red Wings of Detroit
Jonathan Bernier, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

For a rebuilding team like the Red Wings, the long-term responses to each position are far from ingrained. For all we know, the current front-line center Dylan Larkin could be a second-line center as the team contests for the playoffs again. It is the current task of general manager Steve Yzerman to find players who could become permanent solutions throughout the training. Perhaps the biggest hole in the organizational depth chart is in the lens.

The Athletic Drop a bomb

Josh Yohe, who covers the Pittsburgh Penguins for the popular sports journalism site The Athletic, recently interviewed Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and discussed the team’s goal situation. Despite the employment of Matt Murray, who won two consecutive Stanley Cups with the team as a starter in 2016 and 2017, it was his compatriot Tristan Jarry, 25, who took the ball and ran with him to the Penguins this season. Jarry even represented the Penguins in the star competition this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins Matt Murray
Pittsburgh Penguins goalkeeper Matt Murray (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar)

With the two goalies needing a new contract at the end of the season, the Penguins could find themselves in a financial impasse as the salary cap appears to remain stable until next season. It’s a similar situation to the one that led the Penguins to move longtime starter Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights and keep Murray younger (and cheaper).

Related: Detroit Red Wings – A Tribute to Nicklas Lidstrom

“I would have liked to keep them both. The two great goalkeepers, the two championship goalies, “said Rutherford to Yohe. “But with the number of caps from Marc-André, it was too difficult to do without disturbing the rest of the team. And we may still be there. The ceiling does not rise. It is not possible. But we don’t know exactly what it will be. And we know we have very good keepers in our system. So we have to make tough decisions ahead. “(Excerpt from” Jim Rutherford says trade with one of his caretakers may be inevitable ” AthleticNHL – 5/5/20)

Enter the red wings

It’s incredibly rare for a goalkeeper to have two Stanley Cup championships to his credit at the age of 22. In Murray’s case, he was technically classified as a rookie for both seasons due to the rookie play threshold, a very unique feat that could never be repeated. With only 199 games under his belt, he built an impressive resume in no time.

There is no doubt that Murray will be the most expensive option for the Penguins. It is the one which they will seek to pass in an attempt to reduce costs. Fortunately for them, the Red Wings seem ready to have a lot of space for the cap this offseason, as well as a need for position.

Matt Murray Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Cost is essential here. Since Murray’s trade is a near necessity for the Penguins, they literally cannot afford to be too picky with what they can get in exchange for him. That doesn’t mean they’ll give it for something though. Since they are building their team around a top six juices and a cheap depth with an advantage, they could target guys like Taro Hirose and / or Evgeny Svechnikov of the Red Wings.

Advantages and disadvantages

For the Red Wings, the idea of ​​selling future assets can leave fans with a bitter taste. After all, the team should accumulate leads and choices, hoping that some of them will become something remarkable for the future of the team. It would be incredibly painful to see anyone the Murray team work to achieve their potential with another team – especially the last team to deny them another Stanley Cup championship.

Murray also saw his performance slip due, in part, to a range of injuries. So, his maximum total number of games played is a meager 50 games. In fact, Murray missed the team’s first two rounds in the 2017 Stanley Cup due to an injury. There are legitimate concerns that he may be too fragile to count as the number one de facto goalie.

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On the other hand, Murray would give the Red Wings something they don’t currently have: an NHL caliber goalkeeper under 30. With none of the team’s goalkeeper prospects knocking on the door yet, the team could use a youthful face to carry the charge for a few years, with the potential for many years beyond. Not to mention, Murray would also bring championship experience to a team that suddenly lacks it.

Steve Yzerman, Christopher Ilitch
Steve Yzerman and Christopher Ilitch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. following the introduction of Yzerman as the new Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo AP / Carlos Osorio)

Yzerman spent the entire 2019-2020 season making deals to acquire players who had the potential to become a leading role with the Red Wings. It was this mentality that saw the team acquire winger Robby Fabbri from the St. Louis Blues, and he quickly found a home in the team’s top six. Murray may have fallen out of favor with the Penguins, but he could find a home with the Red Wings and become the rock the team can lean on in the fold.

Fortune favors the brave

It would be easy for Yzerman to simply sign a short-term contract with Cam Talbot during the offseason, recognizing that the team is still far from making waves in the league. In a perfect world, the team would have a prospect that seemed a year away from fighting for an NHL spot, and a guy like Talbot could close the gap. Unfortunately, due to Filip Larsson’s difficulties in AHL this season, the Red Wings do not live in a perfect world.

Instead, Yzerman should look for an option that could be more than just a stop hole. He already tried to do this this season when he acquired Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes for a defensive perspective. Unfortunately, the Comrie experiment did not work for the Red Wings, but it shows that Yzerman is aware of the gaps in the team’s depth chart in the net.

If Yzerman can strike a fair deal, adding an NHL-recognized goalie like Murray would do wonders for the team in the present, and potentially in the future. It’s not every day that a young double Stanley Cup champion becomes available and he fills a hole in your squad perfectly. It would be a bold move, and that’s pretty much Yzerman’s M.O.


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