College commitment season continues for junior hockey players and this time it’s a Buffalo Sabres draft pick heading back to school. Forward Brett Murray, the Sabres’ fourth-round pick in 2016, is set to join the University of Miami (Ohio) next season, the Red Hawks have announced. Murray previously played at Penn State University, but left the program after last season. He will continue his development at the college level in 2019-2020 and will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining.
Murray, 20, was the 99th overall pick in 2016 after a near point-per-game campaign in the Junior-A Central Canada Hockey League. He then proceeded to nearly keep up that pace early in the 2016-17 season with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, recording 20 points in 27 games. However, when Murray decided to enroll early at Penn State and join the program for the second half of the season, things began to fell apart. He only managed one point in twelve games for the Nittany Lions and cost himself a year of eligibility to more or less be a non-factor for the team. He followed that up with just a six-point season, including just one goal, and ended up frequently playing an energy role in his 21 appearances. Seeking to develop more as a power forward and offensive force rather than a checking forward, Murray left Penn State and returned to Youngstown this year. So far, it has been as wise decision. Murray has 20 points in 20 games for the Phantoms, leading the team in goals, assists, and overall scoring, of course. The performance clearly caught the eye of the Miami coaching staff, who are likely excited to bring in the proven USHL scorer.
At 6’4″, 216 lbs., Murray is a handful to deal with up front and if put in a position to contribute, can be a real weapon in the offensive zone. A potential pairing with gifted forward Jon Gruden, a fourth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators this past June, Murray could transform the Red Hawks’ top line into a dangerous grouping. The team is set to lose captain and priority NHL free agent Grant Hutton, as well as current leading scorer Josh Melnick, after this season, but with Murray and Trevor Peca joining Gruden and senior forward and Florida Panthers prospect Karch Bachman, the team should be optimistic about the future. If his time in Miami goes better than it did in State College, the Sabres will be feeling better about Murray’s future as well.