At this point, you’re probably well aware of the lack of left-handed defensemen available. With the Islanders trading away Nick Leddy, the team will have to find someone who can play top-four minutes on the left to fill that role.
Internally, Andy Greene’s not going to be able to do it at this point in his career, and to ask one of Robin Salo, Samuel Bolduc, or Sebastian Aho to do it would be a huge ask for the youngsters. Unless Lou is trading for someone, Ryan Murray makes the most sense as a UFA option.
Murray, who was a former second overall pick in 2012, is a steady stay-at-home style of a defenseman. He had 14 points (all assists) last season for New Jersey playing in 48 games and averaging 18:37 of ice time per night.
For his career, he’s just over 20 minutes at 20:08 on average in 395 games played. Now understand that this isn’t a one-for-one swap for Nick Leddy, he is much more defensive but he’s very effective on the PK and at 5v5 in his own end.
Last year with New Jersey he was second on the team in GF% with a 54.69 as he was only on the ice for 29 goals allowed. Based on all of this, he seems like a Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello type of player.
To be fair to Murray, he shouldn’t be asked to be the puck mover that Leddy was. But, there is absolutely a world where he would be an effective running mate with Noah Dobson who could handle the puck carrying duties.
Pairing Dobson with a more defensive d-man, and one not so long in the tooth like Andy Greene, would probably be wise for the continued development of the 21-year-old. That way, Dobson could afford to take more risks offensively while having the safety net of Murray on his left-hand side.
At this point in free agency, I don’t anticipate it costing too much to bring him in. He’s coming off a $4.6 million AAV deal with Columbus but don’t see his number getting that high. I expect him to fall somewhere in the $3 million AAV deal on a one or two-year deal.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
That’s cost-effective for what the Islanders are trying to do and provides some much-needed stability to the left side behind Adam Pelech. With all other options off the board, this one seems to make too much sense for Lou Lamoriello.