PITTSBURGH (AP) — Matt Murray’s breakout performance in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs earned the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender a hefty raise.
The 22-year-old and the team agreed to a three-year extension beginning next season that will pay Murray $3.75 million per season.
Murray helped the Penguins to the franchise’s fourth championship last spring after taking over for injured Marc-Andre Fleury then held onto the job once Fleury returned from a concussion. Murray went 15-6 with a 2.08 goals against average and a .923 save percentage in the postseason. He would have been a restricted free agent at the end of this season. The new deal will keep him in the fold through 2020.
“It’s why you do the bridge contracts,” Rutherford said. “Sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re not. We have a young goalie that’s had a very good career, he’s won a Stanley Cup, played extremely well and we feel has a bright future ahead and a long future ahead.”
Murray has yet to play this season while recovering from a broken hand suffered while playing for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey. While there’s no timetable for his return, he practiced for a second consecutive day on Thursday. He called the fact he woke up on Thursday without any lingering pain from Wednesday “a good sign.”
“I’m just trying to push myself in practice and see how it feels,” Murray said.
The extension will likely push the Penguins to make a decision at some point on who exactly is their franchise goaltender. Fleury, 31, is the winningest goalie in franchise history and is in the second year of a four-year extension he signed in 2014 that has an average annual value of $5.75 million. Rutherford, however, is in no hurry to reach a crossroads.
“Let’s let this play itself out first,” Rutherford said. “Let’s not just presume that Marc is automatically out. He’s been the franchise goalie here. He’s a terrific person. He’s a terrific player. That assumption (that he’ll be moved), we’re getting ahead ourself.”
Fleury will start on Thursday night when Pittsburgh hosts San Jose in a rematch of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Fleury is 2-1-1 with a 2.94 goals against average so far this season.