PITTSBURGH (AP)Matt Murray’s time in Pittsburgh is over.
The Penguins sent the two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender to Ottawa on Wednesday in exchange for forward prospect Jonathan Gruden and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. Murray became expendable when Pittsburgh rewarded All-Star Tristan Jarry with a three-year contract over the weekend.
”We would like to thank Matt for everything he’s done in his five seasons with the Penguins,” general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement. ”He was instrumental to our back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, and we wish him the best.”
Murray went 117-53-19 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in five seasons with the Penguins.
The 26-year-old’s exit ends a roller-coaster stay in Pittsburgh. The even-keeled Murray arrived in the NHL during the 2015-16 season and soon became head coach Mike Sullivan’s go-to netminder. Murray took over as the starter late in the season when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury sustained a concussion, and the rookie hardly looked intimidated by the stage during a postseason run that ended with the Penguins winning their fourth Stanley Cup.
Murray was just as strong the following spring, shaking off an injury minutes before Game 1 of the opening round and sparkling upon his return. He posted three shutouts during the postseason and held Nashville scoreless during both Game 5 and Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals as the Penguins became the first team in a generation to win consecutive championships.
The Penguins rewarded Murray by giving him a three-year contract and allowing Fleury to leave for Las Vegas in the expansion draft. Murray, however, saw his numbers dip over the course of the contract and he struggled to stay healthy. He went 20-11-5 with a 2.87 goals against average and a career-worst .899 save percentage in 2019-20 while splitting duties with Jarry, who earned an unlikely All-Star berth following a stellar first half that helped Pittsburgh remain in contention amid a slew of injuries.
Still, Sullivan turned to the playoff-tested Murray when the qualifying round series against Montreal began in July. Murray played well at times over the first three games but found himself on the bench for Game 4 with the Penguins trailing. Jarry turned away 20 of 21 shots but couldn’t prevent a stunning upset by the 12th-seeded Canadiens that led to a series of changes in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins fired three assistant coaches in the immediate aftermath and sent popular forward Patric Hornqvist to Florida. Pittsburgh also began the process of buying out veteran defenseman Jack Johnson.
Murray heads to a team that is also making a shift in net after opting not to offer 39-year-old Craig Anderson, the winningest goaltender in franchise history, a contract.
The 20-year-old Gruden, Ottawa’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, collected 30 goals to go with 36 assists in 59 games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
The second-round pick could be even more valuable for the Penguins, who previously did not have a pick in either of the first two rounds. Pittsburgh now has five selections in all.
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