The rumor mill has been picking up some steam lately. The Blackhawks were recently linked to Blue Jackets’ defenseman, Ryan Murray, who is a restricted free agent.
Scott Powers of The Athletic connected Ryan Murray to the Blackhawks in a recent article. The interest definitely makes sense. Murray is a viable Top 4 defensemen who is known more for his defensive abilities. This is an area where the Blackhawks could use an upgrade.
In my Potential RFAs and Trade Targets for Blackhawks article from about a month ago, I had actually listed Ryan Murray as a target this offseason. There’s no question that Murray would be an instant upgrade for the Blackhawks, but I also have some concerns.
Ryan Murray has been injury prone in the past. He is a 6-year veteran, and of a possible 492 regular season games, he has only played in 320 games. That’s a bit of a red flag right there.
Where Does Ryan Murray Fit in with the Blackhawks?
Would the Blackhawks be willing to overlook the durability issues? When Murray is on the ice, there’s no doubt that he gets the job done.
If it were up to me, I would pull the trigger on acquiring Ryan Murray’s rights, as long as the price wasn’t too steep. The Blackhawks are desperate for defensive help and Murray would help balance their defensive pairings now and in the future.
Another thing to consider is the fact that most of the defensive prospects in the Blackhawks’ system are more offensive minded and right-handed. Murray would complement them really well as a 25-year-old defensive minded left-handed defenseman.
As far as potential defensive pairings for 2019-20 go, this is what we could be looking at with the addition of Ryan Murray:
Keith – Jokiharju
Murray – Murphy
Gustafsson – Seabrook
The future defensive pairings beyond the 2019-20 season look really promising as well with the addition of Murray. Just imagine these future defensive pairings:
Byram – Boqvist
Murray – Jokiharju
Keith – Mitchell
What Would Ryan Murray’s Next Contract Look Like?
On his last contract, Ryan Murray took a 1-year, $2.825 mil AAV bridge deal after he was unable to get a long term deal done with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This was likely due to a combination of injury concerns and other players needing new deals such as Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Zach Werenski, and more.
With so many key Blue Jackets players needing new deals, the Blackhawks may be able to acquire Murray at a cheaper rate.
Recently, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired the signing rights of center Kevin Hayes for a 5th round pick. I would imagine that a Ryan Murray acquisition could look similar.
If the Blackhawks were to acquire Ryan Murray for let’s say a 3rd or 4th round pick, I feel like that would be a win-win situation. The defense would instantly improve and it wouldn’t cost very much.
I expect Murray to land somewhere in the $3.5-4.5 mil AAV range on his next deal. Not a bad price for a young, Top 4 defenseman, who would likely be around for the foreseeable future.