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Michael Stone signs one-year contract with Coyotes

Defenseman avoids arbitration hearing, had career-best 36 points last season @NHLdotcom

Defenseman Michael Stone signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

Terms of the contract were not released, but Sportsnet reported it to be worth $4 million.

Stone, 26, was a restricted free agent. He was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Aug. 4. Stone had an NHL career-high 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) and 62 penalty minutes in 75 games last season. 

"I'm happy with the number," Stone said. "It was a significant increase and it goes to show I had a good season last year. Things are a little uncertain with my injury and how things are going to go in the future, so the one-year deal give me an opportunity to improve myself again and hopefully we can look at something down the road."

A third-round pick (No. 69) by the Coyotes at the 2008 NHL Draft, Stone's season was cut short after he sustained a knee injury March 26 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent surgery a week later to repair damage to his ACL and MCL.

"I'm feeling really good actually," Stone said. "I think my knee is coming along nicely. I'm back in Arizona and I will continue the rehab and get ready for training camp. I think [we're on the timeline]. I've never had a major injury before so I'm going through this new and not really understanding what's going to happen. Whenever I'm ready to go I'll be ready to go. I'm working real hard to get back as soon as possible."

Coyotes general manager John Chayka explained why he gave Stone a one-year contract.

"With Stoney, it was a lot of factors," Chayka said. "Obviously the fairly serious knee injury he's coming back from. We discussed some longer-term options and there really wasn't a lot of symmetry on those discussions, so at this point it made sense to have him come back, fully recovered, have him replicate his performance. We still view Michael Stone as a long-term payer for the Coyotes."

Stone was given a timetable of six months to recover, which would have him ready to play in the Coyotes opener Oct. 15 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but says he's still unsure when exactly he'll return.

"I can't answer that," he said. "I have no idea. I'm pushing hard to be ready for the beginning of the season. Whether that happens or not is only somewhat in my control. Your legs are what you use 100 percent of the time on the ice so you have to be ready to go. We'll see what happens with that."

Stone finished second in goals and points by a Coyotes defenseman last season behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson (21 goals, 55 points) and had a career-best 14 power-play points (all assists).

"I had an injury at the end of the season and that was the length we felt comfortable with from all sides," Stone said. "I would love to be [with the Coyotes] long-term, that is a goal for me. I love it here. Hopefully, eventually that's something we can work out."

In five seasons with the Coyotes, Stone has 87 points (23 goals, 64 assists) and 178 penalty minutes in 279 regular-season games and no points in two Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The Coyores also signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a six-year contract worth $23.1 million with an average annual value of $3.85 million according to the Arizona Republic on Thursday.

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