Random thoughts: Is Matt Murray going to prove everybody wrong?; More of the same from the Pirates this offseason
Just a few random sports takes and some basic housekeeping stuff here.
Just want to start off with a few housekeeping notes and some general stuff before we really dig into today’s thoughts.
First, I just wanted to apologize for being some spotty lately with updates here. It has been a hectic time and I appreciate everybody that is still subscribing and new subscribers still coming on.
Second, NHL Power Rankings are coming tomorrow on Sunday as more consistent entries here.
As for today. Let’s get into some random sports stuff across the NHL and a little Pittsburgh Pirates baseball as well.
The Matt Murray Redemption Season?
The most baffling NHL decision this offseason for me came from Toronto, where they let starting goalie Jack Campbell go in free agency (the right move) and then replaced him with the duo of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov.
It was such a baffling series of moves because goaltending had become a concern for the Maple Leafs, it is a position that could sabotage an otherwise strong contender if it is not good enough, while Murray and Samsonov had been two of the least productive goalies in the league over the past couple of years.
It just seemed like a completely chaotic and non-sensical move.
But this is why I am just an idiot with a Twitter account and a blog, and why goaltending can be nearly impossible to project.
Not only have Murray and Samsonov been really good when healthy (both have missed time due to injury), but they have been among the most productive goalies in the NHL.
During 5-on-5 play the Maple Leafs have the fifth highest save percentage in the NHL, and the eighth highest mark during all situations.
Murray has been especially strong in his first six starts, owning a 4-1-1 record and a .922 save percentage.
This could be a potential game-changer for the Maple Leafs if it is for real. The question is going to be whether it is for real, or if it is just a random hot streak at the start of the year. Murray’s career has been fascinating with the highs and lows he has gone through over the past six years. He burst onto the scene by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, both of them coming while he was still considered a rookie. And he was not just simply a passenger on those teams. He played a massive role, especially in the second of those championships in 2017 when he posted back-to-back shutouts to close out the Stanley Cup Final series in Games 5 and 6 against the Nashville Predators.
After that second championship, though, his career was at times derailed by inconsistency, injuries, and a trade to the Ottawa Senators that never worked out. He had a three-year run between 2019 and 2022 where he was simply one of the worst starting goalies in the league with a pretty significant salary cap number.
Toronto took on all of that remaining contract and trusted their position with him.
Even during those down years Murray still showed flashes of play where he looked like an upper-tier goalie, but they were always few and far between. It has to be encouraging for Toronto to see him play at this level so far. Because if he can maintain that it not only helps remove head coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Kyle Dubas from the hot seat, it might even help Toronto find some actual playoff success.
Imagine that career for Murray if he helps the Maple Leafs actually end their Stanley Cup drought? Back-to-back titles as a rookie and ending that run of futility in Toronto? It would be amazing.