The Arizona Coyotes have signed European free agent David Ullstrom to a one-year, two-way contract. Ullstrom played this season with HV71 in the SHL, after a long stint bouncing around the KHL. The former New York Islanders forward hasn’t seen NHL action since 2012-13, but will get a chance to reinvent himself in North America next season. Coyotes GM John Chayka released a statement explaining the signing:
David is a big, strong center who is an excellent skater. He has previous NHL experience and will provide us with additional depth at the center position.
Ullstrom, 29, was first selected by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, and quickly made his way to the AHL. In his first season in North America he registered 41 points in 67 games and looked well on his way to making an impact at the NHL level. Unfortunately when he got there in 2011-12 that production dried up, recording just 13 points in 49 games as a part-time player across the next two seasons.
In 2013-14 he headed to the KHL, where he played for five teams across four seasons, eventually leaving for the SHL in 2017. The scoring touch seemed to return this season when he registered 30 points in 47 games, though his game had changed from the high-flying play of his youth. No longer was it just one-on-one rushes, and Ullstrom showed a willingness to pass more this time around. Perhaps that maturity to his game is what interested the Coyotes, who will hope he can prove to be a legitimate NHL player, if even in a sheltered role.