As we mentioned earlier in the week, the World Juniors Showcase is appropriately named as a showcase for the Penguins 2018 second round pick Calen Addison. And the defenseman is making the most of it, scoring what ended up being a game-winner on Saturday night. Any time a player in any sort of Canada vs. USA hockey game nabs a GWG, at any level, in any month, in any competition, for either side- it’s a big deal. Even better was that Addison, mostly known for his offensive prowess, used his stick defensively to start the Canadian rush just prior to this highlight starting.
And once that puck popped out to him, the 18-year old didn’t make any mistakes and looked like an old pro when he wired it top-shelf.
Addison also showed off his excellent in-zone passing ability earlier in the week in a game against Team Finland, tossing an absolute strike to a teammate on a cross-ice pass for a great scoring chance and goal. Easy to picture this in about 4 years in a Pens jersey for Daniel Sprong to finish, isn’t it?
Noah Dobson (NYI) scores his second of the game. Calen Addison (PIT, #5) gets a well earned primary assist. pic.twitter.com/Z6cFTVqnBz— Ty Smith’s Burner Account (@DraftLook) August 3, 2018
Switching gears, congrats to Whitehall’s John Gibson getting a big ticket with the Anaheim Ducks with a contract extension that will kick in for 2019-20. Good for him to push him past any and all the Western PA area kids- Ryan Malone, RJ Umberger, Vincent Trocheck, JT Miller and Brandon Saad for NHL guaranteed earnings (at least, for now).
Gibson’s deal. 8 years. 6.4 million average annual value.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) August 4, 2018
Anaheim bought 6 years of UFA time for Gibson- who has a .923 save% in 178 career NHL games. And 26 total NHL playoff games with 0 Stanley Cups to date.
Compare that to Matt Murray, who has two more years left on his contract and is one year Gibson’s junior. Murray has a career .917 save % in 111 regular season games. And, of course, his postseason resume is way more impressive with 44 total NHL playoff games and 28 wins. Not to mention two Stanley Cup rings.
Another peer comparable is Connor Hellebuyck - who the Jets just bought 4 years of UFA time earlier in the summer on a total of a six year contract extension worth $6.16 million per season. Hellebuyck’s career .917 save% matches Murray exactly (in 149 games to date for the Winnipeg netminder). Hellebuyck also has a limited postseason career, with just 17 career NHL playoff games to date.
Bottom line is that the Pittsburgh Penguins have Matt Murray under contract for the next two seasons at a reasonable $3.75 million per year. After that he will be a restricted free agent, but the goalie market for a long-term deal that buys UFA years of top young talent is shaping up clearly to be in the $6+ million range.
While many can debate how much is the right amount to invest in a goalie, Murray will pretty much be indispensable to Pittsburgh if he plays at a high level and if he’s able to lead the team back to post-season glory, it’s a no brainer to keep him regardless of the cost.
So it’s a lock if Murray performs he will be cashing in on his next contract, and that will be here maybe before you even realize it. The Pens could extend Murray as early as next summer if both sides agree to terms.
Remember that under Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh was quick to give an early contract extension to Marc-Andre Fleury. They signed the veteran in November 2014 to a four year deal that kicked in for the 2015-16 season. Rutherford then repeated that strategy by inking Murray to a three year extension early in October 2016 that started for the 2017-18 season.
With that in mind, it’s clear the Pens have been very proactive to lock down their starting goalies well before they hit free agency. If that trend continues, Murray will probably be joining Gibson and Hellebuyck in a similar salary stratosphere as soon as next off-season if he has a good 2018-19.
Nothing to necessarily worry about right now, but file that nugget away for the future.
Lastly, the crown prince of Pittsburgh, Austin Lemieux, is going to have some really sweet gear when he plays for Arizona State University this fall.
Big fan of that look, have to imagine ASU Hockey is going to get started in a big way as their program gets off the ground.