Last week, the Ottawa Senators made the somewhat controversial decision to put Matt Murray on waivers. Though I’m sure the team would have loved if another organization had decided to take a shot on Murray, there was never much chance of that happening. Practically, putting Murray on waivers meant that the Sens were sending him to the AHL to play in Belleville. Whether Ottawa management, particularly Pierre Dorion, handled the whole situation appropriately or not is one question. Today, though, I’m interested in a different one: How does Murray get back to Ottawa? Presumably he was sent down to work on his game; what are the criteria for his return?
On the one hand, Murray’s been quite poor during his time in Ottawa. By almost any metric, he’s been near the very bottom of the league. On the other hand, he’s played a tiny sample of games: he’s appeared in only 33 games for Sens, and just 6 this season. He’s been hurt quite a bit during that time, but he also just hasn’t played much at all. Goalies are difficult to judge at the best of times, but a goalie who’s barely played, and when he does it’s behind the worst defense in the league — well that just makes things really tricky.
It’s also the case that coach DJ Smith has clearly lost faith in Murray. I don’t particularly blame Smith in this regard; his job is to give the Sens the best chance possible to win each and every game, and it’s hard to argue Murray helps that cause. When speaking on the matter, Dorion seemed to suggest that Murray’s stay in Belleville could be an extended one. When that time has passed, will Smith be any more convinced?
Murray played his first game for Belleville last night, where he stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced for a .910 SV% across all situations. If he’s good for a .910 sv% for say the next ten games across the next four weeks, is that enough? At some point, the Sens have to recall him because there is no possibility of keeping a goalie on the second year of a four year deal that pays him major bucks in the minors. What level of play will meet the requirement for the recall? Is there a numerical threshold or are you just looking for general “vibes”? Can Murray even do enough in the minors to prove his worth to the coach or can that only be achieved in the NHL? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below!