6:00 PM: The Coyotes have officially announced the deal.
5:22 PM: Morgan reports that the contract is worth $2.75MM over two years for an AAV of $1.375MM. He adds that the deal is pending league approval.
4:10 PM: Despite some comments indicating he wanted to test out the free agent market and secure a bigger role somewhere else, Kevin Connauton is in “advanced discussions” with the Arizona Coyotes on a new contract according to Craig Morgan of AZ Sports. Arizona radio host John Gambadoro reports it is a two-year contract.
Connauton, 28, is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency on Sunday and had been clear that playing time was a big factor in his decision. The left-handed defenseman put up 21 points this season in limited minutes, and has shown a knack for creating offense at even-strength. His last contract paid him an average of $1MM, something he’ll surely be looking to increase on any incoming deal.
The Coyotes have five defensemen locked in for next season, and are close to signing an extension with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to keep them in town for a few more seasons. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of opportunity for Connauton to move up, though perhaps talks with other teams around the league left him wondering whether that chance would come anywhere at all. The Coyotes are trending in the right direction, and have plenty of cap space to make it worthwhile to bring back a valuable defenseman like Connauton, especially if they can pencil him in to the bottom pairing again.
Arizona doesn’t have unlimited funds like some other bigger market teams, meaning they have to spend carefully on players that can provide a real contribution. At the very worst, Connauton seems like a perfect candidate to be able to step up in the lineup if injuries should occur or be a valuable piece of trade bait come the deadline the next two seasons.