While Murray was invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins training camp in September, he did not make the final roster of the Penguins. He had some very impressive stats at the end of his 2014-2015 season, such as the lowest goals against average between the other goalies selected for the camp (Marc-Andre Fleury , Jeff Zatkoff, and Tristan Jarry), although he still has room for improvement as all players do. The final roster included veterans Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff. Let's face it - Matt Murray is still young and has plenty of potential for playing in the NHL, but with Pittsburgh’s recent loss against the St. Louis Blues - the result of poor positioning by Jeff Zatkoff - it brought about the question if Matt Murray should get brought up to the NHL because of his impressive tract record both this season and last season.
The simple fact is that Murray finished out his 2014-2015 season with twenty-five wins, ten losses, and only two overtime losses. That's impressive for any goalie especially when that was Murray’s first season playing for the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. Before he played for the Wilkes-Barre Penguins he was ranked second in the OHL with a record of thirty two wins, eleven losses, one overtime loss, and five shootout losses. It's easy to say he has impressed people since he was eighteen.
However, we can all agree that Matt is young and that the NHL isn't the same as the AHL. While both are competitive, they are competitive at different levels. I don't for one second doubt the fact that the players are less skilled in the AHL or any other minor league teams because that is simply not true. The NHL is a faster paced game with men who have been playing at such pace for a long time. Stars such as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Ovechkin can all be intimidating for any young player. The AHL is used to develop players to get them ready to play in the NHL. Think about it for a minute - putting a younger goalie (Matt Murray for example) against a goalie who is a veteran in the NHL (Carey price for example, who has been surrounded by the NHL level) would be unfair because Carey has more of a skill and has developed a different way of seeing the game. As many goalies will agree you have to develop a knowledge of your competitors to know what some players gravitate towards; whether it be backhand shots or slapshot. Every player has a unique playing style and simply studying these players on TV won't help a young goalie gain the much needed exposure to these different playing styles.
Ultimately it all comes down to opinions, statistics, and practice. Matt Murray is only twenty one so there is no rush to get him playing in a league when the Penguins have already struggled enough this season. If Murray continues to work hard as hard as he has in the AHL, and continue to draw attention towards himself, he will eventually be brought up to the NHL. While I can sit here and say I personally would like to see him replace Zatkoff for a game or two that may not be beneficial to where the Penguins stand right now. Zatkoffs contract expires at the end of the 2016 season so if he doesn't get signed again this could potentially open up a position for Murray as a backup for next season. It all depends on how both his season and the Pittsburgh Penguins season ends. While the Penguins are generally a young team it could be a good thing to bring in Murray so that he can both gain exposure and he could be exactly what Pittsburgh is looking for in a goalie. It's all a waiting game for now, Matt will be brought up when his time comes and until then he needs to continue dominating the AHL. The Wilkes-Barre Penguins are currently leading the division, standing with twenty eight wins, nine losses, and one shoot out loss. Murray has four shut outs to date and is leading his team with shutouts and a save percentage of 0.938%. Currently Murray is beating Marc-Andre Fleurys in save percentage, granted Fleury was out with an injury. While we can all agree Matt Murray is very impressive on the ice, it is hard to say if he's ready for the vigor that comes along with playing in the NHL. While I support Matt being in the NHL, I can see where it may not be a good idea because of how young he is and how the Pittsburgh Penguins may not want to take that chance when there is so much pressure on the team already.
IS MATT MURRAY READY FOR THE NHL?
Matt Murray is a 6’4, twenty one year old goalie who currently plays with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins (AHL), more commonly referred to as the baby penguins. Murray continues to impress in the AHL, racking up sixteen wins with only five losses this season. He became a household name last year when he broke the record in the AHL for most consecutive shutouts. His record lasted three hundred and four minutes before he allowed a goal by the Springfield Falcons.
While Murray was invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins training camp in September, he did not make the final roster of the Penguins. He had some very impressive stats at the end of his 2014-2015 season, such as the lowest goals against average between the other goalies selected for the camp (Marc-Andre Fleury , Jeff Zatkoff, and Tristan Jarry), although he still has room for improvement as all players do.