Kevyn Adams made his first roster move as the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager Friday, signing Brett Murray to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Murray, a 6-foot-5-inch winger, totaled nine goals with 15 assists for 24 points in 55 games with the Rochester Americans this season. The 22-year-old played on an American Hockey League contract after impressing in his audition during the Prospects Challenge last September.
The Sabres’ previous management was working to sign Murray before Jason Botterill and 21 others were fired June 16. Murray, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, was free to join another organization because he was not under contract before the June 1 deadline.
Murray will now rejoin an Amerks roster that’s currently without a head coach and is expected to be much younger than in recent seasons. He impressed as a rookie in Rochester and slowly earned more responsibility under coach Chris Taylor, who was also fired in June.
It was a marked improvement from what the Sabres observed from Murray in previous development camps and prospect challenges. Last September, former assistant general manager Randy Sexton told The Buffalo News that Murray needed to perform well on the ice and in fitness testing to earn an invitation to Rochester’s training camp.
Murray proceeded to have a camp that illustrated that his 2018-19 season was no fluke. During his final season of junior hockey, Murray totaled 41 goals and 35 assists for 76 points in 62 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League.
Murray planned to attend Miami University (Ohio), but a coaching change caused him to evaluate his options, and he chose to pursue a professional career with the Sabres.
The Amerks' season will not start until Dec. 4, at the earliest. The roster could include Murray, Mattias Samuelsson, Oskari Laaksonen, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Matej Pekar, among others.
Though Murray was a dynamic scorer in juniors, he carved out a role as a power forward with the Amerks. He improved his play away from the puck and filled a top-six role at times.
However, Murray projects as a checking-line player with upside offensively.
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