Montreal signs veteran D Murray: one year, $1.5 million

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The Montreal Canadiens have made an interesting move, signing defenseman Douglas Murray to a one-year deal.

The contract is worth $1.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Murray, 33, split last season between San Jose and Pittsburgh, scoring six points in 43 games (and three in 15 playoff games). He was acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline and saw an uptick in minutes (17:09 average TOI in San Jose; 18:30 in Pittsburgh) before falling back to around 15 minutes per night in the postseason.

Vancouver was reportedly interested in the hard-hitting blueliner, but Montreal seemed a more natural fit for Murray given the uncertainty surrounding Alexei Emelin.

Emelin, 27, tore up his knee in April after colliding with Boston’s Milan Lucic and underwent surgery in May. With his recovery projected to go into the start of the 2013-14 season — NHL.com’s Arpon Basu reports the Habs “have no definitive idea” of when Emelin will return — Montreal was in need of another physical presence (Emelin led the team in hits last year, with 110, despite missing the final 10 games of the regular season.)

At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Murray is capable of filling the void, but there will be questions about his foot speed and skating ability, neither of which looked good during Pittsburgh’s playoff ouster to Boston.