The Arizona Coyotes and first-year GM John Chayka continue to put the finishing touches on what has been a busy offseason in the desert. Today the club has agreed to a six-year deal with RFA defenseman Connor Murphy that comes with an AAV of $3.85MM. It appears the deal covers Murphy’s remaining RFA seasons along with at least one unrestricted year.
The player’s agent, Brian Bartlett, first indicated that the two sides were nearing an agreement yesterday.
Murphy, who turned 23 in March, finished third among Coyotes blue liners in points (17) and tied for 2nd in goals with six. Arizona is clearly buying into Murphy’s upside as despite his relatively modest offensive contributions to date, his new contract places him in the company of some more accomplished defenseman. Comparable contracts, according to General Fanager, include: Roman Josi ($4MM AAV), Travis Hamonic ($3.857MM AAV), Jake Muzzin ($4MM AAV) and Mattias Ekholm ($3.75MM AAV). Each of those players posted superior offensive numbers in their platform years.
Chayka recently explained the organization’s defensive philosophy in an interview with Dan Rosen of NHL.com when discussing the acquisitions of Luke Schenn and Alex Goligoski, stating: “Defense isn’t about defending, it’s about getting the puck in the forwards’ hands and getting the puck moving into the offensive zone. It’s about transitioning. That’s the philosophy and that’s been the theme behind the moves that we’re making, let’s get players who can get pucks back and get pucks up to forwards in an efficient and effective manner.”
It would seem then given the length commitment that Chayka and his staff view Murphy as an up-and-comer and someone who can help in the transition game both now and well into the future.
The six-foot-four, 212-pound Murphy was the Coyotes first-round selection (20th overall) in the 2011 Entry Draft. He’s appeared in 181 NHL regular season contests, tallying 11 goals and 32 points while also accumulating 100 minutes in penalties.
Chayka now can cross off another item on his to-do list but still has work to do before calling it a summer. The Coyotes are still working on new deals with RFA’s Michael Stone and Tobias Reider. The Reider negotiations could drag on through the summer as the two sides are evidently not close to agreeing on the forward’s market value.