April 19: The Coyotes have made it official, signing Lyubushkin to a one-year deal. The team did not confirm the contract details, but GM Bill Armstrong did release a short statement on his big defenseman:
We are very pleased to sign Ilya to an extension. He is a big, tough, reliable defenseman who gives us a physical presence on our blue line. He is also a great teammate and we look forward to having him on our roster next season.
April 18: With five defensemen expected to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, the Arizona Coyotes have cut that number down to four as they have signed Ilya Lyubushkin to a one-year extension at $1.35MM, according to Coyotes’ reporter Craig Morgan. The deal is all base salary, according to PuckPedia.
The 27-year-old was originally signed by Arizona in 2018 to a one-year, entry-level contract after five years in the KHL, and has subsequently inked two more one-year deals each year. Now, make it four one-year deals. The 6-foot-2 Lyubushkin appeared in 41 games in 2018-19, 51 last year and despite having some visa issues, forcing him to start the season late, has appeared in 31 games so far this season.
While not an offensive defenseman by any means, Lyubushkin has proven to be a solid defensive player on the blueline, who is adept at blocking shots (52 blocks in 31 games) and doling out hits (77). With so many defensemen likely leaving via free agency for the 2021-22 season, the team wanted to ensure that they could depend on Lyubushkin for at least one more season as a third-pairing defenseman.