The Reign officially completed a trade today that will send goaltender John Murray to the Mississippi Sea Wolves for future considerations.
The trade relieved a longstanding predicament of what to do with the team’s three goalies, which unexpectedly extended into February because of injuries to Kellen Briggs and Jeff Zatkoff, as well as Zatkoff’s brief stint in the American Hockey League. Taylor said that since Zatkoff is on assignment from the Kings, his choice came down to Briggs or Murray and he had more confidence in Briggs.
“Future considerations” means the Reign will receive either some amount of money or a player from Mississippi before June 15, the last possible day of the postseason. Taylor also said he might have been able to obtain more in exchange for a guy who could start for most teams, but took less to give Murray a better situation.
But maybe not that much more, in spite of Murray’s talent.
“It all depends on your situation, where you are with your roster,” Taylor said. “Everybody knew I was over a barrel (with three goaltenders). I didn’t hold the chips.”
Murray himself had just returned from the AHL and found out Thursday night that he had been traded; however, the deal wasn’t officially completed until today. Murray said his goodbyes to teammates on Friday morning before packing his bags for Biloxi.
In 24 games for the Reign, he went 13-8-3 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He started 10 straight games, and 13 of 14, for one stretch in December and January when Zatkoff was in the AHL and Briggs was still recovering from a preseason groin injury.
Murray also was an injury replacement for Zatkoff in the ECHL All-Star game. The Lancaster, Pa. native won over many fans for his durability, but was the odd man out with both Zatkoff and Briggs healthy and available.
The Sea Wolves are struggling at 22-25-6, fourth place in the South Division of the ECHL’s American Conference. He won’t face the Reign again unless the two teams meet in the Kelly Cup Finals. Mississippi had been using one goaltender, Ryan Munce, almost exclusively in February.