After recently missing two games with a back injury, it appears that Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray is set to miss some more time, perhaps even a substantial amount. Columbus Dispatch beat writer Aaron Portzline revealed late last night that the Blue Jackets’ blue liner broke his hand while blocking a shot in the first period of a 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Murray did not return and the prognosis was confirmed following the game. While there is still no word on the severity of the break or a timeline for his return, Murray continues to have bad luck on the injury front in his young career.
Until last week, it appeared that Murray was well on his way to another full season, after skating in 82 games with Columbus last year. This is a change of pace for the young defenseman, whose injuries have hindered his development early on in his NHL career. Drafted second overall in 2012, Murray was expected to step in and have an impact right away in 2012-13, but a serious shoulder injury at the junior level with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips eliminated that possibility and held Murray to just 23 junior games that season. Nonetheless, Murray was able to make the team in 2013-14 and played in 66 games his rookie year. However, he did miss almost the entire month of March that year with a knee injury. In 2014-15, Murray was held to just 12 games all season long due to setbacks regarding his knee and other injury concerns. In his first three seasons since being drafted, Murray skated in just 101 hockey games. That all finally changed last season, when Murray played in all 82 games for the Blue Jackets. Yet, Murray managed to score only 25 points, less than his rookie season pace. Tabbed as a puck-moving, point-scoring defenseman out of juniors, there is some question as to whether or not injuries have played a part in the former top pick’s lack of production. Through 60 games this year, Murray has just 11 points, and depending on the extent of this injury, that could be all he gets.
Regardless of the development and offensive effectiveness of Murray, he is a capable defenseman whose loss leaves a hole in the Blue Jackets’ lineup. As Portzline points out, the trade deadline swap of physical Dalton Prout for puck-moving veteran Kyle Quincey is now even more vital, as Quincey can more accurately replace Murray’s play. Columbus continues to win, with 13 points in their last 10 games, and are holding tight to the final Metropolitan Division playoff spot, fending off the New York Rangers and chasing the Pittsburgh Penguins. The pressure is now on Quincey and the rest of the Blue Jackets defensemen to pick up the slack of losing Murray and keep the team moving forward.