The Blue Jackets had high hopes for defenseman Ryan Murray when he was selected second overall in the 2012 draft, and Columbus still believes he can be an integral part of the organization. That’s why the Blue Jackets inked Murray to a two-year, $5.65-million extension in February.
The thing is, it’s hard for Murray to prove his worth when he’s injured. He was forced to miss the second game of the season with a lower-body injury, and now the oft-injured 23-year-old rearguard looks like he may be back on the shelf once again.
Murray was forced to leave Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks after he got tangled up with Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the Chicago net. Murray headed to the Blue Jackets’ bench shortly after the collision, and he did not return to the contest with what the team was calling an upper-body injury.
Any injury that forces Murray to miss time — be it short-term or long-term — would be a seriously disappointing turn of events for the young blueliner, as he’s been forced to spend much of his short career on the shelf. The 2015-16 season saw Murray play all 82 games, but he wasn’t so lucky during the first two years of his career.
In 2014-15, Murray missed all but 12 games due to various lower-body injuries. It started with a knee injury in October, continued with an ankle injury in February and his season ended with yet another unspecified lower-body injury. And while the 2013-14 season wasn’t as bad, he still missed 16 games with lower-body ailments.
When Murray has been healthy, he has proven he can be every bit the offensive blueliner the team had hoped he would become when they selected him second overall. In 161 games, he has nine goals and 49 points and he posted a healthy four goals and 25 points while averaging nearly 23 minutes of ice time per game in 2015-16.
As for what Murray’s potential absence could do to the Blue Jackets, it could simply signal a bigger role for Zach Werenski earlier than coach John Tortorella had planned, and Cody Goloubef, who was sent down just recently, could already be heading back to the big club.
If there’s any positive spin, at least it isn’t another lower-body injury this time? Whichever way you slice it, though, the last thing the Blue Jackets wanted to deal with was another injury to a once promising prospect such as Murray.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.