The Arizona Coyotes and defenseman Connor Murphy agreed to a six year, 23.1 million-dollar contract on Thursday.
This past season, Murphy set career highs of six goals and 11 assists in 78 games from the blue line for the Coyotes. His average ice time of 20:30 was ranked third on the team, amongst the defensive core.
During the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship, this past spring, he helped the United States capture a bronze medal. His three goals in Team USA’s 10 games, were tied for first amongst the blue liners.
Murphy said, “Honestly, I had no expectations going into this process. When the Coyotes threw that as a possibility, it was kind of an easy decision to go down that route. From day one, being drafted by Arizona, it has been first class to be a part of it and to be brought up into this team. It is a place where I want to play and want to be a part of. I just thought of that as a reason and no need to throw around shorter stuff.”
He added, “I want to be a part of it and it is easy to have that decision when you have the trust in the organization and we have the team going forward. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
This past season the Coyotes have made some improvements to their lineup, with the acquisitions of Alex Goligoski and Luke Schenn shoring up the defense and Jamie McGinn up front. With the emergence of their younger players, like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome, they could make a serious run for a spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Murphy said, “It has been great and exciting to see guys that we have added that way. Just knowing these guys from around the league and the reputations they have as such good defenders and veteran guys. It is cool to know that they will be with us next year and helping in so many ways.”
He went on to say, “Just knowing that we have such a solid group of D-men, I would not say that there is a weakness in any area. It is exciting and it is going to help us push each other. That is what we are going to need: good depth and be able to get more wins and get into the playoffs and try to accomplish our ultimate goal.”
The Coyotes selected Murphy 20th overall in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft. In 181 games with Arizona, he has put up 11 goals and 21 assists.
Coyotes general manager, John Chayka said, “He is a guy we think can be a part of our leadership group for a long time moving forward. He is a good young player that was set back by injuries that have been resolved, no issues with those. As we move forward, we are not paying for past performance we are paying for future performance. We wanted to get ahead of things and be proactive.”
He added, “We hope it is a deal that is fair and equitable for Murph but if we can get him to outperform that contract, certainly that is the kind of what we are hoping for.”
The Coyotes also agreed to a one-year deal with defenseman, Michael Stone on Thursday as well. The financial details of Stone’s contract were not released by the team, but Rogers Sportsnet believes it is worth around four million-dollars.
Stone, 26, who was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on August 4th, scored six goals and 30 assists, in 75 games this past season, for a career high for him.
The Coyotes selected him in the third round, 69th overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft had his season cut short after suffering an ACL injury on March 26 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Stone said, “I am feeling really good actually. I think my knee is coming along nicely. I am back in Arizona and I will continue the rehabilitation and get ready for training camp. I think [we are on the timeline].”
He added, “I have never had a major injury before so I am going to go through this new and not really understanding what is going to happen. Whenever I am ready to go, I will be ready to go. I am working hard to get back as soon as possible.”