The Montreal Canadiens added defensive depth this afternoon, when they signed Doug Murray to a one year contract for the upcoming season, which will see Murray earn 1.5 million dollars.
Murray is veteran of 465 NHL games, played entirely with the San Jose Sharks, before being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline this past season.
Doug is a big, 6’3 and 245 pound defenseman, plays a physical style, and is a penalty killing specialist. Though he will not bring much to the Canadiens offensively, he could help ease the pain of losing Alexei Emelin for the beginning of the season.
The signing creates a bit of a logjam at the bottom end of the Canadiens blue line group, and will see veterans Murray, Francis Bouillon and Davis Drewiske battle youngsters Jarred Tinordi, Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu for ice time.
Twitter exploded with anger at the news that the Montreal Canadiens decided to bring in yet another veteran defender. Fans are upset, that Marc Bergevin would not show faith in Tinordi and hand him a top six role. Fact is, due to injury and under performance, the Canadiens used 12 different defensemen in the lockout shortened 2013 season. During the upcoming 82 game season, you can bet the Habs will be forced to use just as many.
If everyone is healthy, Murray may be sitting in the pressbox, but there will come a time next year when the Canadiens will be thankful they have a few extra veteran defenders around.
This signing is viewed by many as an unnecessary road block in the development of former first round picks Tinordi and Beaulieu. However, if the young defenders outperform the veterans, then Murray or Drewiske will be waived, sent down, or traded to make room. It could be an excellent motivator for the youngsters, knowing they have to climb over several established NHLers to get playing time. On the other hand, if Tinordi gets off to a slow start to begin the season, he can be sent to Hamilton where the pressure can be taken off, and he can work through his struggles.
This is not a shot at Tinordi and Beaulieu, it is actually a safety net for the young guys who have so much potential, but may not be quite ready to be full time NHLers.
Murray may be lacking in speed, but he will not be counted on to be a top four contributor on the Canadiens blue line. When you spend 1.5 million on a free agent in August, you certainly aren’t adding a Norris candidate, but Montreal already has those. The Habs just needed a little depth, and they found it.