At 6’5 and 225 pounds, Brett Murray was one of the biggest recruits to join the Penn State hockey roster when he did so two seasons ago. Today it was reported that Murray is no longer with the team, choosing instead to play junior hockey.
Murray was also considered a ‘big recruit’ since he was one of the highest-touted incoming players to join the program since it began competing at the division-one level. His talent and exploits prior to coming to Penn State led to his being drafted by Terry and Kim Pegula’s Buffalo Sabres in 2016, a few months before he was set to join the Lions. He went in the fourth round and was the 99th selection overall.
Murray’s issues at the collegiate level began prior to his joining the team when it took an extra semester to clear him to be eligible to attend Penn State, as a student. While waiting to be cleared, Murray played with the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL, scoring 7 goals and 13 assists in 27 games.
Once Murray joined the team, in January of 2017, Guy Gadowsky’s squad had already formed as a cohesive unit. It was hard to find Murray the playing time that a young player of his caliber requires. Murray played just 12 games, recording only 1 assist, in 2017.
Last year Murray played better but still sparingly. He scored 1 goal and had 5 assists in 21 games. It was becoming clear that he was passed up in the depth chart by a few incoming freshmen, and with Gadowsky bringing in another round of highly-recruited forwards this season, that would not have gotten much better for him. What he appears to need is a great deal of playing time.
He will get much more ice time at the junior level. At Penn State, Murray played in 33 games over two seasons. In just the fall of 2016, while waiting to join the Lions, he played 27 with Youngstown. The prior season, playing with Carleton Place, Andrew Sturtz’s former team, Murray played in 48 games, scoring 46 points.
The good news for Murray is that he turned twenty years-old exactly a month ago to this day. He still has time to get back on track, and resume his hopes of becoming an NHL player some day. If he ends up in Canada for the year, he will be legally old enough to drink some Molson Golden after a hard day of skating. So there’s that.
While Murray is a very talented player, and by all accounts a good person, teammate, and student, his departure will not hurt Penn State’s prospects for the coming season. The Lions will kick off the season in roughly fifty days, on Thursday and Friday, the same weekend that the football team hosts Michigan State on October 13. We’ll have roster updates and season previews in the coming weeks.
Good luck Brett, and thanks for your contribution to the team and university.