2022 Player Report Card: Brett Murray

<em>23-year-old has potential, but Sabres’ managers may have their doubts</em>

Our Buffalo Sabres 2022 player report cards continue today with a look at winger Brett Murray.

Total Season Stats: 19 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS

Age: 23

Contract Status: entry-level, signed through 7/31/22, RFA after ($750,000 in 2020-21, $800,000 in 2021-22)

Brett Murray could be part of the Sabres’ future, but GM Adams will have to decide fairly quickly if he believes the winger should be. The Sabres drafted Murray with their second-round selection (99th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. He signed a one-year deal with the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ farm club, on Oct. 2, 2019.

The Sabres soon resigned him for two more years. Murray has enjoyed a decent career with the Amerks, playing 134 games and getting 33 goals, 43 assists and 76 total points in his past three seasons. During the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, Amerks No. 81 had a postseason three goals, three assists and six points. He also showed a good college record and notched six points in 21 games during his sophomore year at Penn State University, as well as an assist at the Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals.

The Buffalo Sabres finally gave Murray a chance at the big time, when they brought him up to play two NHL games during 2020-21. The winger didn’t get points or assists, but his performance was much improved this past year. Murray only played 19 games with the Sabres in 2021-22, but netted two goals, four assists and six points.

Brett Murray also showed some toughness, on Dec. 29, 2021, when he pummeled Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to the ice after Siegenthaler hit Kyle Okposo from behind. The crowd of 11,511 roared their approval:

He wasn’t just good at throwing punches. Buffalo News sports writer Lance Lysowski thought Murray showed he’d learned to use his blend of size and skill to make high level plays. During another game against the Bruins, the forward forced a turnover when he checked defenseman Charlie McAvoy along the boards, carried the puck into the left circle and passed the puck to Vinnie Hinostroza for a goal.

Sabres coach Don Granato was impressed by Murray’s assist: “There, he made a very confident play” the coach said. “He...hasn’t had a lot of time in the NHL. We’re trying to get him to see himself as an NHL player. And, you know, ‘I own this and I own this.’ And that was a moment that he owned, and he executed and we need him to own more moments.”

While the coach liked Murray’s performance, the GM has yet to sign him past the Sabres’ two-year entry level deal and bring him up to Buffalo for good. Some players need a few years in the AHL before they’re ready to play in the NHL on a regular basis. Tage Thompson is a prime example.

Brett Murray could be another piece of the Sabres’ offensive puzzle, but he’ll need more time in Buffalo to show it. If Adams thinks he deserves another Sabres contract, fans will have a chance to find out how he plays going forward.

Season Grade: C

Grade Brett Murray on his 2021-22 season.

A - excelled above expectation9
B - did better than expectation35
C - met expectation93
D - did worse than expectation22
F - did much worse than expectation0