Photo: Last Word on Hockey
The Columbus Blue Jackets announced on Thursday night that they dealt defenseman Ryan Murray to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. After dealing defenseman Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Cliff Pu earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets have $14,208,333 in cap space ahead of the opening of free agency on Friday.
Murray, 27, recorded two goals, nine points, a -9 rating, a 48.51% Corsi-for percentage, and a 53.29% expected goals-for percentage during the 2019-20 season when he was limited to only 27 games due to injury.
Murray averaged 19:57 per game, the fourth-most among Blue Jackets’ defenseman, last season, including 0:52 on the power-play and 2:03 on the penalty-kill, the second-most among Blue Jackets’ defenseman.
With the addition of Murray, the Devils add depth to a defense that finished the season with an average of 3.25 goals-against per game, tied for the second-most in the NHL, and add a solid penalty-killer after their 82.4 penalty-killing efficiency was tied for seventh.
In 347 career NHL games, all with the Blue Jackets, Murray has recorded 15 goals, 110 points, and a +13 rating. He has tallied a goal, three points, and a +2 rating in 20 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one goal during the tournament in 2020.
After dealing Nutivaara and Murray, the Blue Jackets’ defense, which was tied for the third-stingiest in the NHL last season when it limited opponents to an average of just 2.61 goals-per-game, has gotten thinner. However, the unit remains solid with Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, David Savard, and Vladislav Gavrikov still around.
The Blue Jackets could be clearing cap space to add some scoring in free agency after losing forward Artemi Panarin in free agency last year and their offense averaged just 2.57 goals-per-game this past season (tied for the fourth-worst in the NHL). They could be trying to take a run at forward Taylor Hall, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday and won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2017-18. Hall will not re-sign with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Blue Jackets acquired center Max Domi and the 78th overall pick in the NHL Draft from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Josh Anderson on Tuesday. Domi signed a two-year contract that will carry a cap hit of $5.3 million with the Blue Jackets on Wednesday before he could have become a restricted free agent.
The team also bought out center Alexander Wennberg on Thursday.
By Harrison Brown