Spirit adds seasoned d-man

Randy Russon
December 9, 2018

Saginaw Spirit has made a move to solidify its injury-riddled blue line brigade by acquiring overage defenseman Justin Murray from the Barrie Colts in an Ontario Hockey League trade confirmed this morning.

Spirit general manager Dave Drinkill paid a relatively high price to obtain Murray by sending 2001 birth year winger Ryan Stepien and a fifth round draft pick in 2020 to the Colts.

Stepien was a third-round pick, 41st overall, by Saginaw at the 2017 OHL priority selections draft. In 68 games with Saginaw over the full 2017-2018 season and thus far this 2018-2019 campaign, Stepien netted 11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points.

Meantime, shortly after acquiring Stepien from Saginaw this morning, Barrie flipped the sophomore forward to the Kitchener Rangers for 2000 birth year defenseman Jack York.

As for Murray, he is in his fourth OHL season and has played in 221 games to date. He had 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points in 28 games for Barrie this season and was the Colts team captain.

“We feel that (Murray) can provide offense from the back end while providing us very strong defensive play and grit as well,” Drinkill said of the new Saginaw defender. “Two-way defensemen in this league with experience and leadership are hard to find, so we are excited to be adding him to our group.”

The Spirit has been without four regular defensemen in recent games.

Despite the rash of injuries, Saginaw has a 15-11-3 record and remained in contention in the OHL’s well-balanced Western Conference. The Spirit has a record of 4-2-1 since Chris Lazary replaced Troy Smith as head coach.

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