Pittsburgh Penguins playoff savior Matt Murray just returned to practice this week as his broken hand, suffered in the World Cup of Hockey, heals up. Apparently it’s not his contract signing hand.
The Penguins announced that Murray has signed a three-year deal that kicks in after the 2016-17 season. Pierre LeBrun reports that the contract has an AAV of $3.75 million per season.
Murray, who is eligible for the Calder Trophy when he returns this season, is in the last year of his rookie deal.
This means the Penguins would, in theory, have over $9 million committed to their salary cap next season between Murray and Fleury. But with the expansion draft looming next June, the writing continues to be on the wall that Fleury’s time in Pittsburgh is at an end.
From the NHL expansion draft rules:
One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
So whether or not Murray was a restricted free agent at the time of the draft didn’t matter. It’s a different standard than for skaters.
If the Penguins protect Murray, then Fleury is gone. With a no-move clause, Fleury has to be protected too. And they can only protect one. Which brings us back to the other issue, which is that the Penguins have as much cap money committed to their goaltending next season as they do to Evgeni Malkin.
Goodbye MAF. Pittsburgh’s Flower becomes a desert blossom. Or maybe a Texas rose, if the Dallas goaltending doesn’t work out …
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