Brett Murray played 19 games for Buffalo in 2021-22. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu

‘Persistence’ helps Brett Murray earn recall from Sabres: ‘Lots of initiative’

BUFFALO – Sometimes, Sabres coach Don Granato explained, young players return to the minors and don’t get any better. As they wait for that next recall, they’re not focused on improving for when another chance materializes.

Then there are players like winger Brett Murray, who on Monday was recalled from the Rochester Americans.

“I’ve tried to keep myself ready and prepared for this moment,” he said prior Monday’s 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, his first NHL game since Jan. 22, 2022.

After playing 19 games for the Sabres in 2021-22, Murray returned to the AHL. Other than a one-day recall last season – he skated in the pregame warm-up but was scratched – he toiled in the minors for almost two years, quietly developing into one of Rochester’s best forwards.

So having lost wingers Alex Tuch, Jordan Greenway and Zemgus Girgensons to injuries, they summoned the 6-foot-5, 228-pound Murray to replace some of that missing size and grit.

“The timing was right to get him an opportunity here, Granato said.

To make room, the Sabres sent rookie winger Isak Rosen back to the Amerks.

Granato said “persistence” ultimately helped Murray, 25, return to Buffalo.

“He’s taken lots of initiative down there to make himself better,” he said. “And we needed a guy, in this case we’re looking to make a swap. The reports are real good.”

Murray said “sticking to a routine” helped him earn another trip to the NHL.

“Just trying to get better, a little bit better every single day,” said Murray, a fourth-round pick in 2016, 99th overall. “We have a great staff down there in Rochester that has helped me out tremendously, so just leaning on them and continuing to work no matter what and hopefully it pays off, and it has, I guess, a little bit.”

Murray, who joined the Amerks on an AHL contract in 2019-20, is their longest-tenured player. Last season, he set career-highs across the board, scoring 23 goals and 49 points in 71 games.

He has been at the forefront of their success during the last two Calder Cup Playoffs, recording seven goals and 16 points in 24 games.

Murray said “consistency” has buoyed his success.

“Coming from junior to the professional level, I had to adapt my game a little bit,” he said. “It is tough to do something like that every single game. I keep going back to the training staff, but they’ve helped me a lot on identifying the type of player that I need to be in order to succeed at this level and that’s what I continue to do.”

Murray has scored two goals and seven points in 12 games with the Amerks this season. He skated at left wing alongside center Tyson Jost and Victor Olofsson against Arizona.

Meanwhile, Rosen, one of the Sabres’ top prospects, returned to Rochester following his first taste of the NHL, a seven-game look in which he compiled zero points and a minus-3 rating.

Rosen, 20, skated just 4 minutes, 12 seconds in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

“He was real good,” Granato said. “He showed a sense of objective, awareness, positional awareness, some of his identity, but he needs to just (get) a little bit stronger, a little more assertive.

“So I actually met with him yesterday to talk about, ‘You’re going to come back at some point. Let’s talk about how we expect you to become better because of this experience.’ And it was a good conversation. He’s an intelligent kid.”

Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson left Monday’s morning skate early because of soreness and missed the game.

Granato said Samuelsson is day to day. Rookie defenseman Ryan Johnson replaced him.

Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who missed three games last week because he was sick, backed up Devon Levi on Monday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *