Blue Jackets sign Ryan Murray to two-year, $5.65M extension
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed promising defenseman Ryan Murray to a two-year $5.65 million contract extension on Thursday. The young blueliner had been stung by injuries since he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Blue Jackets in 2012, but appeared to be coming around this season, showing more flashes of his potential. He was in the final year of his entry-level contract and was slated to be a restricted free agent this summer.
“Ryan Murray is a talented, smart player who has been a very steady performer on our blue line and we are extremely happy to have this deal completed,” said Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen in a statement. “Ryan has earned more ice time, showed steady improvement and contributed in all situations for us throughout the season. We look forward to his continued growth and development with our club.”
Murray and Seth Jones had been paired together since a January trade brought jones to the Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen. Murray had seen an uptick in his play with Jones, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
According to Buckeye State Hockey, in an article published Feb. 3, Murray’s individual shot attempts had doubled since being paired with Jones. Also, they note the team has a whole has seen better possession numbers with the two on the ice.
“Murr has just found himself,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said to the Columbus Dispatch. “He has not played a lot of hockey with all the injuries, knock on wood. I just think he’s found himself here. He can steady things down, move a puck. I’m not going to say Jonesy did that for him. I think Murr has just found himself. I think they’re helping one another, but Murray has found himself and has played much better.”
Murray has yet to play a full season for the Blue Jackets. In 2013-14 he played 66 games. Last year injuries kept him out of all but 12 games. Murray has 17 points in 55 games this year while averaging 22:28 of ice-time per-game.
Now Kekalainen’s attention will turn to signing Jones to an extension. It’s unclear if Jones would prefer a long-term deal at a low salary cap hit for security, or a short-term deal like Murray’s, with a potential bigger payday in the next contract.
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