The Arizona Coyotes signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a six-year contract on Thursday. Financial terms were not released, but The Arizona Republic reported the contract is worth $23.1 million, an average annual value of $3.85 million.
Murphy, who was a restricted free agent, set personal NHL bests last season with six goals, 11 assists, 17 points and 78 games played, and averaged 20:30 per game, third among Coyotes defensemen. He helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2016 World Hockey Championship, and his three goals in 10 games tied for the lead among defensemen.
"Honestly, I had no expectations going into this process," Murphy said. "When the Coyotes threw that as a possibility, it was kind of an easy decision to go down that route. From Day One, being drafted by Arizona, it's been first-class to be a part of it and be brought up into the team. It's a place where I want to play and want to be a part of. I just thought of that as a reason and no need to throw around shorter stuff. I want to be a part of it and it's easy to have that decision when you have the trust in the organization and in the team that we have going forward. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Video: Connor Murphy talks contract extension with Coyotes
The Coyotes made adjustments to their roster this offseason with the additions of defensemen Alex Goligoski and Luke Schenn and forward Jamie McGinn. The emergence of young players such as Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome could keep them in the mix for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs throughout this season.
"It's been great and exciting to see guys we've added that way," Murphy said. "Just knowing those guys from around the League and the reputations they have as such good defenders and veteran guys. It's cool to know that they'll be with us next year and helping in so many ways. Just knowing that we have such a solid group of D-men, I wouldn't say there's a weakness in any area. It's exciting and it's going to help us push each other. That's what we're going to need: good depth and be able to get more wins and get into the playoffs and try to accomplish our ultimate goal."
The 20th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, Murphy has 11 goals and 32 points in 181 games with the Coyotes.
"He's a guy we think can be part of our leadership group for a long time moving forward," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. "He is a good young player that was set back by injuries that have been resolved, no issue with those. As we move forward, we aren't paying for past performance we're paying for future performance. We wanted to get ahead of things and be proactive. We hope it's a deal that's fair and equitable for Murph but if we can get him to outperform that contract, certainly that's kind of what we're hoping for."
The Coyotes also signed defenseman Michael Stone to a one-year contract on Thursday. Financial terms were not released, but Sportnet reported it is worth $4 million.