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Avalanche sign defenseman Murray for one year

Free-agent defenseman Ryan Murray agreed to a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced on Monday.

Murray, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2012 NHL draft, played last season with the New Jersey Devils after an offseason trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Murray, 27, played well at times in New Jersey, but was benched for a stretch while the Devils adjusted to new coach Lindy Ruff’s system. He also missed time while under the league’s NHL COVID-19 protocols.

Still, he had 14 assists in 48 games and played with several different partners as the Devils struggled for consistency after a lengthy COVID-19 pause early in the season. He became expendable this offseason as New Jersey has added three defensemen, including two of the league’s more notable acquisitions on the blue line, Dougie Hamilton, who left Carolina on a free-agent deal, and Ryan Graves, acquired from Colorado in a trade.

Murray has the potential to replace many of those minutes with the Avalanche that Graves leaves behind. While he’s not a noted scorer, he could occupy valuable shifts on the penalty kill for a team that will be chasing the Stanley Cup.

“Ryan is an effective two-way defenseman who can provide minutes and added puck movement to our back line,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said in a statement. “We like the experience he brings to our locker room, and we’re excited to see him fit in with our group.”

Murray spent seven seasons with Columbus and ranks eighth all-time among Blue Jackets defensemen in points (110). A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Murray was on a Team Canada club in 2016 that won the IIHF World Championship, and was a member of Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in the same year.

The Avalanche won the West Division last year with 82 points, but struggled in the postseason’s second round, dropping a series to Vegas after winning the first two games.

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