Ryan Murray is a Good – Not Great – Defenseman and That's Perfectly Okay

By Sam Blazer on July 24, 2018 at 8:10 am
Ryan Murray tries to avoid a hit from forward Ryan Reaves.
Russel LaBounty – USA TODAY Sports

The weight of expectations will always throw a player into company that he/she may or may not deserve.

The Columbus Blue Jackets know about that with Pierre-Luc Dubois, as he immediately jumped into a role that the team likely wasn't sure if he was ready for it. In that case, it worked out well for both parties as Dubois cruised to a 48-point rookie season.

In another case, the defenseman they drafted No. 2 overall in 2012, Ryan Murray, has been dealing with top pick expectations for a while. At the time, many considered Murray to be the best (or perhaps safest?) player in the entire class. Injuries have derailed his career, and still only 24 years old, it has affected the amount of time he has played on the ice.

The oddest part of it all? He's actually a good, solid player. 

This isn't to say that Murray could be an all-star someday. This *is* to say, though, that he is slightly above average and can play with any player you pair him with in the lineup. He has shown that he can play with Seth Jones, Jack Johnson, and Markus Nutivaara. They all give varying returns, but Murray is at least able to mirror that player and allow that person to flourish.

Jones played well with him, and Murray was the rock in the pairing. He allowed him to roam and did not take away from Jones' strengths. The same can be said about Nutivaara; both were able to succeed while playing with the former Everett Silvertips standout.

The same can't be said about playing with Johnson. While Murray had possession numbers above 50% with other players, he saw dips while paired with Johnson. It lends credence to the theory that he mirrors players much more than he drives. Murray puts up consistently around 0.25 points per game, and that clip is nearly the same every year with few dips.

In an era where players can often sink a line or a pairing, such dependability is nearly unheard of. 

The term 'dependability' may be a stretch when it comes to Murray, though it may be more bad luck than anything when talking about his injury history. Yes, he is always injured. No, it isn't the same nagging problem. He has dealt with shoulder, back, knee and hand injuries with almost none of it being a repeat problem (save for his back). Given how young he is, if he can break the bad luck, he can still have a long career and continue at his current pace. 

Superstardom is out the door. Difference-maker won't ever be an apt description. What Murray does is give you a utility player that can slide throughout your lineup without your team missing a beat. It isn't what you dream of when you think about a highly drafted player, yet it beats the alternative.

Good may be the enemy of great, but who says they can't get along?

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