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Prospect Profile - #24 Matthew Murray

Next up in our Top 25 Under 25 series is 2012 3rd round pick Matthew Murray.

Jamie Sabau

Who is this guy?

Matthew Murray is a 6'4" 166lbs 19 year old Goaltender from Thunder Bay, Ontario who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 3rd round on the 2012 NHL Draft.

What are they saying about him?

Murray has been described as a "profly" style goaltender, which is the modern form of butterfly style popularized by Patrick Roy. He has been noted primarily for his size, as the upward trend in goalies getting taller than they have in past years makes him an ideal size for the pros. He has also been noted for his athleticism, having been compared to Marc-Andre Fleury in style, although he says he tries to model himself after Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

However, like Fleury he has been criticized for his rebound control and stick work, but unlike Fleury does not have the same level of quickness yet. Although he admits to his foot speed being one of his biggest weaknesses and aims to improve it. During the Prospect Development Camp he was the worst of the 4 goaltenders.

"I think my size is what really helps me. I think what I need to improve on is get that much quicker so I get into position a little bit earlier and don't have to make those slider and diving saves. If I'm going to make it to the next level [my footspeed] is going to be the biggest thing for me."

"I'm definitely a butterfly. I'm not quite as athletic as Marc-Andre is but I try to always be in position and make the easy save and keep in all the rebounds."

Where has he been?

Murray came up playing Bantam and Midget with his hometown Thunder Bay Kings before being selected by the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He was primarily used as a backup, with Jack Campbell being acquired to play as starter during his draft year. However, last year he retook the reigns as starter and is expected to continue in that role this coming season. He also served as a backup for Ontario in the World U17, winning Gold, and as a starter for the World Junior U18 for Team Canada, winning Bronze playing all 7 games and being named a Top 3 player on his team. He also got to play alongside Top 10 draft pick Darnell Nurse for two seasons in Soo as well as the U18 team.

When can we expect to see him?

At just 19 years old, Murray will be returning to the OHL for another season this year. This will be a critical season for him as he currently remains unsigned, so if the Penguins do not sign him to a contract this year his player rights will be dissolved and he will be eligible to re-enter the Draft for 2014.

If he does get signed, then he will be turning 20 in the Spring and as such is eligible to join the WBS Baby Pens or Wheeling Nailers in the fall, although he could also return to the OHL as an overage player for one final season. Supposedly he has the potential to develop into an NHL starter, and he has a few series that certainly make that seem possible as he performed quite well in the World Juniors and in the playoffs, but his regular season numbers leave a lot to be desired, so his ability to compete at the AHL level, let alone as an NHL starter, are still up in the air. Goaltenders are generally long term projects, with players not hitting their peaks until around age 27, so it could be quite a few years, I'll say 3-5 after turning pro, before we figure out whether or not he will pan out.

Why is he #24?

Murray received 1 vote for 15th, 1 vote for 16th, 2 votes for 18th, 1 vote for 24th, 1 vote for 25th, and 3 omitted him from the Top 25.

How can he climb the list?

As mentioned, this will be a make or break year for Murray. One thing that he will continue to need to work on is his speed, improving his lateral movements, as well as his stick work and rebound control. It has also been suggested that he could stand to work on learning to play more of a hybrid style to take advantage of his size. But with 3 other goaltender prospects who are seemingly already further along, it will certainly be a tough road ahead.