ShareThis Page
Penguins

Penguins goalie Murray signs 3-year contract extension

| Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, 9:33 a.m.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a first-period save on the Capitals' Justin Williams during game 2 of the Eastern Conference second-round playoff series Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Verizon Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a first-period save on the Capitals' Justin Williams during game 2 of the Eastern Conference second-round playoff series Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Verizon Center.

Matt Murray needed his hat. The assembled media in front of him after Thursday's morning skate at PPG Paints Arena eagerly wanted to ask questions about the goaltender's new three-year contract extension, but Murray paused the scrum until he received the Penguins cap that holds back his sweat-soaked hair when he speaks in front of the cameras.

Apparently neither an ongoing recovery from a hand injury nor a set financial future will cause the 22-year-old to break from his habits.

Consistency and reliability are two of the attributes that put Murray, a 2012 third-round pick, in such good position to receive his new deal, which comes with an average annual value of $3.75 million and begins with the 2017-18 season.

He proved his worth as a rookie during the 2016 playoffs to the point that little doubt existed about the Penguins' plan to offer an extension before Murray's entry-level contract expired at the end of this season.

The question that loomed during the summer and training camp simply was when the sides would come to an agreement.

“I didn't really know when it was going to happen,” Murray said. “Neither side was in a big rush. But no, I wasn't really surprised (by the deal). I just took things day by day, like I always do. It was a bit of a stressful situation. I'm glad it's over with.”

Talks between the Penguins and Murray's agent began at the start of training camp, general manager Jim Rutherford said.

Murray's hand injury, suffered Sept. 19 in a World Cup of Hockey game against Russia, made it challenging for the goalie to rush back to camp and remind team officials of his talents.

But Rutherford and his lieutenants trusted Murray's body of work, which included a .923 save percentage in 21 playoff appearances, a .930 save percentage in 13 regular-season starts and a slew of American Hockey League performances that netted him the league's Goaltender of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

“We have a young goalie that's had a very good career,” Rutherford said. “He's won a Stanley Cup and played extremely well. We feel he has a bright future ahead and a long future ahead. Getting him on a bridge contract at that number does help us going forward with the cap.”

How the Penguins plan to handle their goalie-related finances and the depth chart at that position becomes the pressing question. Marc-Andre Fleury comes with a $5.75 million cap hit through the 2018-19 season.

Speculation about Fleury's place with the Penguins likely won't soon fade, but Rutherford did his best to quell any concerns about the organization pushing out their longtime franchise netminder.

He indicated even the expansion draft in 2017 might not force the Penguins to choose one or the other, though the rules stipulate only one can be protected from Las Vegas' selection, and unless Fleury waives his no-movement clause, he must go on the team's protected list.

“Let's not just presume that Marc is automatically out,” Rutherford said. “He is a terrific person. He's a terrific player.

“I think with that assumption (about Fleury leaving the organization), we're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. Let's let the two guys play it out. We'll see where that goes. If it has to be a decision on Marc-Andre, there are several options of dealing with that, as far as the expansion draft goes.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me