Matt Murray officially flames out with Senators

Justin Cuthbert and Julian McKenzie wonder what ails Matt Murray, whose days appear numbered with the Ottawa Senators with two-plus seasons remaining on his deal.

Video Transcript

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Matt Murray being placed on waivers by the Ottawa Senators. Senators giving up on him less than two years after signing him to a 4-year $25 million contract, honestly this has been an unmitigated disaster in terms of free agent signings. Actually it was a trade and I believe an extension right away. But only 10 wins from 33 appearances for him.

Only 33 appearances so far with an 8.92 save percentage and one of the worst goals saved above average marks in the entire NHL. We had Darren Dreger tweeting about COVID being an issue with him, which seems like it was fed from an agent who was trying to make an excuse or trying to provide an explanation for why Matt Murray has not performed well. But the fact of the matter is he was performing poorly before he ever got COVID.

Now I hope that there's not something that he's not dealing with serious effects of COVID. You never want anyone to deal with that. And there are a lot of NHL players apparently dealing with that, some have had to move on from the game because of their bouts with COVID. But this was a disaster before that. Certainly a mistake by the Ottawa Senators, but I do find that the decision to give up on him is sort of strange.

I don't think it's just a performance thing because of that decision. I feel like there's some serious underlying issues, maybe some serious distrust between the organization and the goaltender. We've heard stories of him saying he's not ready to play when all indications are that he should be ready to play. So I feel like that relationship just frayed and this is probably the right thing to do because if it wasn't something else, why not just couch him?

This was a major investment. Put him on IR, let him get healthy, let him get right mentally if he needs to do that, and then hopefully he can still give you some value on that contract down the stretch. To me, just getting rid of him suggest that this is a relationship problem between the senators and Murray, and it's just not going to work and it's untenable, and they had to make this decision rather because of that.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. This does look a little strange to me too. This is a guy-- you're absolutely right with the COVID thing. This is a guy who was not playing up to par well before COVID was a thing. I wonder if it is just either a relationship thing or just something going on with him that could be happening behind the scenes. I really do not know when it comes to Matt Murray, but it's going to go as an L for the Ottawa Senators on that front.

Already a season where they are-- they-- remember the beginning of the year they said, we're done rebuilding, now is the time to win games. They're not doing too much of that right now. So the fact that Matt Murray has not been able to play up to the level they expect him to play, especially when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning all those Stanley Cups. We forget Matt Murray at one point was being looked at as like one of the best young goalies in the game.

I think it was Kelly Rudy on hockey night in Canada on Saturday who said when he saw him for the first time, he said it was like the best young goalie he had ever seen in his life. Like there was a lot riding on that Murray. And the fact that he was going to Ottawa, it was supposed to be a fresh new start for him. Now I wonder but the fact that he's in the position that he's in right now, I don't know if another NHL team is going to be willing to give him that start.

He might have to just resurrect his career in the American Hockey League try to get some great starts, get his groove back, just take the time for himself just to get his mind right, and then maybe he gets a chance again. It's not out of the realm of possibility. I don't remember how old Matt Murray is, but this is a guy who--

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Still a young guy.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: --yeah. If he was up there in his career, I'd imagine maybe it's time for him to hang it up. But he's still young. If he gets himself-- if he show some promise in the American Hockey League, that might be his last chance. But if he shows some promise there, maybe an NHL team comes calling. But if not, he might find himself being a journeyman minor league goalie for probably the rest of his pro days.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, it seems like punishment if he's suddenly riding buses. It seems like if he's truly dealing with COVID issues and they're just like, hey, go ride the bus and play games, and we're not really worried about your health. I mean, that seems sort of callous too. So this is definitely something to watch. I don't think there's going to be any takers, still two plus years left on that deal.

I wonder if he could be a rehabilitation project for someone or some team when that contract is done. But as long as he's making $6 plus million and he doesn't have this relationship with the Ottawa Senators anymore, I feel like it's-- he's going to be in the situation where he's not playing or he's playing in the minor leagues. And clearly, that's a significant fall from grace and a quite the downturn on what's been a bit of a strange and unique trajectory in terms of NHL goaltender having so much success and then falling a bit off this cliff.

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