The Arizona Coyotes already made their big splash this off-season, acquiring Phil Kessel, so it comes as little surprise that the team made one unassuming announcement about three players signed to two-way contracts. Defenseman Aaron Ness has signed a two-year deal, as has forward Andy Miele, while forward Beau Bennett has signed a one-year deal. No financial terms have been disclosed.
Ness, 29, is the only one of the trio who spent last season in North America. A depth piece for the Washington Capitals, and before that the New York Islanders, Ness has played in 47 career NHL games and can be a useful minor league piece in case of emergency. The Coyotes have great depth on the blue line, but the team will be happy to let Ness, who scored a career-high 55 points last year with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, play a key role with the Tuscon Roadrunners while acting as deep option should injuries strike at the top level.
Miele, 31, begins his second stint with the Coyotes organization after spending the past two seasons abroad. A player with incredibly impressive numbers in the AHL, Miele branched out to the European ranks in search of a greater role. He enjoyed back-to-back strong seasons, first in the Swedish Hockey League and last year in the KHL, but appears ready to try his hand in the NHL again. Miele has only 15 NHL games to his credit, but he and the ’Yotes hope that his time overseas has further developed his game to the point that he can contribute in Arizona.
Bennett, 27, was limited to just five games with the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk last season, his first outside North America, but that didn’t stop the Coyotes from taking a chance on him. Now in his fourth NHL stop, Bennett is looking to get back to being a regular in the league, as he was in his first five pro seasons. The 2010 first-round pick has skated in 200 NHL games, recording 64 points, and enjoyed the best season of his career just a few years ago in 2016-17 with the New Jersey Devils. If GM John Chayka and company see the residual upside in Bennett, he could be an intriguing option for the Coyotes this seaosn.