Penguins lock up Matt Murray with three-year contract extension

(Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Thursday morning that they’ve agreed to a three-year contract extension with goaltender Matt Murray. The deal carries an average annual value of $3.75 million.

Murray is just 22 years old and technically in his rookie season this year, but he won the starting job from Marc-Andre Fleury and led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship last spring. He’s widely considered one of the best young goalies in the game, so keeping him under $4 million for the next three years could be a big win for the Penguins.

The former third-round pick is making $628,333 against the salary cap this year and was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The new deal will kick in after this season. According to CapFriendly, when the extension expires Murray will still be a few years away from unrestricted free agency, but he will be arbitration-eligible. By then, he could be in line for a large raise.

In 13 regular season games last year, Murray went 9-2-1 with a 2.00 goals-against-average and a .930 save-percentage. He started 21 games in the playoffs, going 15-6 with a 2.08 GAA and .923 save-percentage. Though it’s a relatively small sample size, those kind of numbers — and the fact that he’s already a Stanley Cup champion — have made Murray a valuable asset worth investing in.

With Murray locked up semi-long term, the focus now turns to what will happen with the Pens’ current goalie depth. Fleury, 31, has opened up the season as starter until Murray fully recovers from a hand injury (he’s expected to return within the next few weeks) and has proven to be a reliable puck-stopper for a long time in Pittsburgh. He’s under contract at $5.75 AAV until 2019, so he (or maybe even Murray) could be traded before the end of the season.