All it takes is one glance at Douglas Murray to realize he is not a guy you want to get in the way of. His Swedish accent along with his deep voice add to the intimidation and to top it all off, his nickname is Crankshaft.
This intimidation factor is how he found success in hockey and made it to the NHL. After serving as team captain at Cornell University, where he earned a degree in hotel administration, Murray sneaked his way into the NHL when he was drafted in the eight round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Murray would stay in San Jose before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins three-quarters through last season then sign a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens this season.
When teams sign Douglas Murray, they know they won’t be getting a defender that will score and make plays often or someone who will play at the point to help the team get a much-needed power play goal. But for teams like the Montreal Canadiens that already have that talented defenseman and are lacking in size, a player like Murray could be what they need.
The Canadiens spent this past offseason looking for guys who would add size to a team that already has skill and speed. Even with the acquisitions of enforcers George Parros (6’ 5”, 224 pounds) and Murray (6’ 3”, 240 pounds), the Canadiens rank 22nd in the league in terms of weight and last in the height category.
Although the Habs are still below average to be considered a “big” team, Douglas Murray is giving Coach Michel Therrien the option of making his last defensive pairing a strong, unwelcoming one.
Montreal has been focusing plenty on its defensive play this season, ranking second in the league in goals against per game and first in blocked shots. Carey Price has described his teammate as a key shutdown guy that makes it tough for opponents to get a good opportunity in the Canadiens’ end.
Although Murray’s last goal and assist both date back to April, he is second on the Habs’ roster in hits registered with 39 in 15 games.
Douglas Murray averages 12:46 of ice time per game and has been a healthy scratch in a handful of contests since returning from an upper body injury that kept him out of the lineup for the first 11 games of the season. Of that ice time, 2:02 is spent on the penalty kill.
Murray will most likely never get the game-winning goal off a power play shot but he may make a crucial block or hit when his team is shorthanded.
According to Boucher Scouting, Murray has the second most blocked shots per minute played on the penalty kill for all Montreal defencemen, with only shot-blocking expert Josh Gorges surpassing him. Although his successful to unsuccessful play ratio is below average for Montreal d-men on even strength, Murray averages 2.54 successful plays for every unsuccessful one while shorthanded, putting him in the upper tier in that category.
Other areas of play where Murray ranks above average for all Montreal d-men while on the penalty kill include defensive zone stick check success rate, blocked shots per minute played, dump-out success rate, and allows one of the lowest scoring chances against per minute played.
Murray may not be someone you want on the ice to generate a scoring opportunity (he only has eight shots in 15 games played), but he has proven to be useful for the Canadiens on the penalty kill, one that is ranked third-best in the league.
Douglas Murray’s time with the Canadiens could likely be over once this season ends but he is proving to be a useful addition during his time with them. He adds size while GM Marc Bergevin tries to find more productive players that will make the Canadiens a bigger team. Signing P.K. Subban will be a challenge for Bergevin in the coming off-season and with young defencemen like Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu looking to get more NHL experience, not much room will be left for Murray, Francis Bouillon, and Davis Drewiske.
Murray may be a slow, awkward skater that doesn’t contribute much offensively, but he is a temporary addition while the Canadiens find a more long-term solution.