Immediately on the heels of the Connor Murphy signing, the Arizona Coyotes have inked fellow blue liner Michael Stone to a one-year, $4MM contract, according to AZSports’ Craig Morgan. Stone and the Coyotes had been scheduled to go to arbitration on August 4th but the two parties obviously found common ground and thus avoided a hearing.
Stone blossomed in his fourth full season in the desert, averaging nearly 22:30 of ice time per game. He ranked second among Arizona defensemen behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson, tallying 36 points in 2015-16. The Coyotes drafted the 26-year-old in the third-round (69th overall) of the 2008 draft.
After accounting for Stone’s deal, Arizona is left with more than $6MM in cap space and only RFA Tobias Rieder left unsigned. That figure is a bit surprising given how busy the Coyotes have been this summer upgrading their roster. In addition to locking up their own RFA’s, Arizona has re-upped with Shane Doan (one-year, $3.88MM), signed UFA winger Jamie McGinn to a multi-year deal worth $10MM over three seasons, and acquired pending free agent Alex Goligoski via trade before extending his contract for five years with an AAV of nearly $5.5MM. That doesn’t even include Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5MM cap hit which Arizona absorbed as part of a deal to move up four slots in the first round of the recent draft. To still be $6MM under the cap ceiling is an impressive bit of work from John Chayka.
Given the offseason work and the young talent already on the roster, it’s conceivable the Coyotes could force their way into a playoff spot in 2016-17. That’s especially true if goaltender Mike Smith, who missed three months of action last season due to a core muscle injury, returns to form as a quality netminder.