Brett Murray is once again returning to the Buffalo Sabres. Can he earn his way into the lineup in 2023-24 after spending last season in Rochester?
Brett Murray is often lost in the mix amidst the bigger name players in the Buffalo Sabres pool. Names like Jiri Kulich, Lukas Rousek, Isak Rosen, Tyson Kozak, Filip Cederqvist, and Matt Savoie often get more recognition, but Murray has been an integral part of the Rochester Americans over the past two seasons.
After putting up 32 points in 52 games in 2021-22, Murray turned around and scored 49 in 71 contests this past season, plus an additional 10 in 14 playoff games. But impact scoring wouldn’t be on Murray’s radar if he gets a chance to play in the NHL this season, since he factors in either as a fourth-liner or an extra skater.
Instead, the 6’5, 227 lb winger will let his physicality shine. Not that he wouldn’t make things happen in the offensive zone occasionally, as he’s shown otherwise time and again in the AHL. So now the question is, can he finally force his way into Buffalo’s lineup?
Brett Murray could find a spot with the Buffalo Sabres in 2023-24
As it stands, the Sabres will have Jordan Greenway, Tyson Jost, Peyton Krebs, Zemgus Girgensons, and Kyle Okposo on their lower lines. Casey Mittelstadt could also join the bottom six if he doesn’t fill in for the injured Jack Quinn.
We also can’t count out Victor Olofsson since he’s still part of the roster at the time of this writing. And finally, we also can’t rule out the possibility of the Sabres signing one more forward.
But let’s assume that everything remains equal here, meaning Olofsson stays and Mittelstadt returns to his spot at center on the third line. I’m also calling up no prospects into the four lines for the purposes of this model. Therefore, it could give the Sabres something like this at forward:
- Skinner – Tage – Tuch
- Peterka – Cozens – Olofsson (seriously)
- Greenway – Mittelstadt – Jost
- Okposo – Krebs – Girgensons
This would open up the extras for a pair of prospects, one of which could be Matt Savoie in the early run, simply to set the stage for him to revert to Rochester for a few games before ultimately returning to the WHL. Therefore, Murray could find himself vying for at least a role as an extra skater in Buffalo, perhaps with another high-caliber prospect like Lukas Rousek or even Brandon Biro.
Will Brett Murray outlast the competition?
Murray could have the leg up over Rousek here if the Sabres are serious about keeping him around, since the latter is waiver-exempt, per Cap Friendly. However, Murray won’t be the only non-waivers exempt player in the mix, as Biro, another high-end AHL talent, is also in the same predicament.
This raises the possibility that, because neither Murray nor Biro are waivers exempt, the Sabres could decide to just assign Savoie back to the WHL where he can play another full season alongside Zach Benson. It would allow Buffalo to keep Murray and Biro in the main lineup without running the risk of losing either.
As you can see, a lot of what-ifs are going on here regarding Murray, Biro, and other fringe prospects looking to secure a spot on the Buffalo Sabres roster. In short, you can expect an interesting camp and preseason when the position battles commence.
Source: Brett Murray returns to Sabres with one-year, $775,000 contract by Lance Lysowski, BuffaloNews.com
(Statistics provided by theAHL.com)