A new Leafs/Matt Murray conspiracy theory
BY RYAN SMITHERAM AUGUST 2, 2023 (9:08)
Many believed the Leafs were going to buy Murray out once the second buyout window opened following the arbitration ruling on Ilya Samsonov's new contract. The buyout would've freed up $4M in cap space this season, but the Leafs would have had a dead cap hit of $2M for next season, which was a cap hit they could not afford, given the incoming extensions of Auston Matthews and William Nylander - if/when they both sign, of course. Murray is due to be paid $8M in salary for the upcoming season as part of the 4-year, $25M deal he signed with the Sens. It is a heavily backloaded contract and if the Leafs bought him out, Murray would lose slightly over $2.6M of his remaining $8M in salary. Had Murray been bought out, he would have had to sign a contract with another team for at least $2.5M to ensure he didn't lose any money as a result.
Was there an alternative reason as to why Murray was placed on LTIR instead of being bought out? Did Murray want to protect his $8M salary for the upcoming season, given his injury history? Did he agree to sit out the year on LTIR to avoid being bought out, thereby receiving his entire $8M salary? It's possible, but unlikely given Murray's demeanor and personality. It's not the most realistic thought process that he would do such a thing, but the speculation is there nonetheless.
Murray's injury history is extensive and he has been injured at least 10 times over the past two seasons alone as you can see below. Last season he missed 3 months with various ankle, adductor and concussion issues and had the Leafs bought him out, he would have had to sign a deal likely around the league minimum and find himself battling for a backup position, perhaps in a location that he didn't necessarily want to play.