Trade action is heating up on the second day of the NHL draft.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got the movement started Wednesday by trading two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray to the Ottawa Senators. Minutes later, the Nashville Predators dealt former Penguins forward Nick Bonino and two picks to the Minnesota Wild for Luke Kunin and a selection later in the draft.
Pittsburgh got a second-round pick, 52nd overall, and forward prospect Jonathan Gruden for Murray, who is a restricted free agent in need of a new contract. Murray, 26, helped the Penguins win the Cup in 2016 and 2017, but they committed to Tristan Jarry, signing him to a $10.5 million, three-year deal after his All-Star season.
“We would like to thank Matt for everything he’s done in his five seasons with the Penguins,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “He was instrumental to our back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, and we wish him the best.”
Murray went 117-53-19 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in five seasons with the Penguins.
Murray, who struggled to stay healthy, went 20-11-5 with a 2.87 GAA and a career-worst .899 save percentage in 2019-20 while splitting duties with Jarry, who earned an unlikely All-Star berth following a stellar first half that helped Pittsburgh remain in contention amid a slew of injuries.
Still, head coach Mike Sullivan turned to the playoff-tested Murray when the qualifying round series against Montreal began in July. Murray played well at times over the first three games but found himself on the bench for Game 4 with the Penguins trailing. Jarry turned away 20 of 21 shots but couldn’t prevent a stunning upset by the 12th-seeded Canadiens that led to a series of changes in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins fired three assistant coaches in the immediate aftermath and sent popular forward Patric Hornqvist to Florida. Pittsburgh also began the process of buying out veteran defenseman Jack Johnson.
Murray gets a fresh start in Ottawa with a rebuilding team that has plenty of cap space to re-sign him. Senators GM Pierre Dorion called Murray an important addition to the lineup.
“He’s a proven goaltender who has considerable high-pressure experience and someone who we’re certain will serve as a exceptional mentor to our young group of upcoming goaltenders,” Dorion said after trading one of his team’s four second-round picks in this draft.
The 20-year-old Gruden, Ottawa’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, collected 30 goals to go with 36 assists in 59 games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
The second-round pick could be even more valuable for the Penguins, who previously did not have a pick in either of the first two rounds. Pittsburgh now has five selections in all.
Minnesota got second- and third-round picks (37th and 70th overall) and sent a fourth (101st) to Nashville to take on the remainder of Bonino’s contract. He’s owed $4.1 million next season, while Kunin is a restricted free agent.
Nashville also put forward Kyle Turris and defenseman Steven Santini on buyout waivers. Turris had four years and $24 million left on his contract, so he’ll count $2 million against the Predators’ cap for the next eight seasons
The goalie market is hot leading up to the start of free agency Friday. Marc-Andre Fleury could soon be on the move if Vegas can find a taker for the 35-year-old three-time Stanley Cup winner.
Several netminders will be available in free agency, including 2018 Cup champion Braden Holtby and longtime face of the New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist. The Washington Capitals are a “solid candidate” to sign Lundqvist, general manager Brian MacLellan has said.