Arizona Coyotes lock up Connor Murphy with six-year, $23.1M contract

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(Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes have agreed to a six-year contract with 23-year-old restricted free agent defenseman Connor Murphy.

Per a source, the deal is for an average annual value of $3.85 million, which comes to $23.1 million over the life of the contract. Murphy had just finished his three-year entry-level deal.

“We are extremely pleased to sign Connor to a long-term contract,” said Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka in a statement released by the team. “At only 23, Connor has established himself as a very good NHL defenseman. He’s a great skater, a fierce competitor and he has an excellent work ethic. We look forward to him taking the next step and having him on our blue line for many years to come.”

The young blue liner just finished his second full season in the NHL where he scored six goals and notched 17 points in 78 games played. He averaged 20:30 of ice-time last season as he took a big step forward from the 16:48 per-game he averaged the previous season.

This ranked third on the Coyotes overall.

Murphy held a 46.4, 5-on-5 score and venue adjusted CF% and a plus-0.28 score and venue adjusted 5-on-5 CF% Rel.

Arizona used the 20th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft to select Murphy – the son of longtime NHL defenseman Gord Murphy.

Five for Howling pointed out that Murphy’s game took off after he was paired with All-Star Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Connor Murphy had an up and down year defensively with the Coyotes. He started the year playing with Nicklas Grossmann and then found himself sporadically on third pair with Klas Dahlbeck. He then was promoted to top pair with Oliver Ekman-Larsson after a stint on the press box. The Coyotes need Murphy to be solid on the right side, and his time with OEL seemed to serve him well.

Howlin’ Hockey noted in late March, that the Murphy, Ekman-Larsson pairing benefitted both players.

With Murphy regularly mixing it up and delivering shots and punishment, OEL is free to do what he does best. Orchestrate. Score. Produce. The pairing has benefited Murphy as well, who has more than doubled his career high points total from 7 to 15.

Arizona now has three core defensemen locked up for the next several season. Ekman-Larsson’s deal runs through 2018-19 at $5.5 million per-year. The team traded for the negotiating rights to Alex Goligoski earlier in the summer and signed him to a five-year, $27.375 million contract.

UPDATE: After the Coyotes signed Murphy, the team put the finishing touches on their defense by locking up Michael Stone to a one-year $4 million deal according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The 26-year-old Stone ranked second on the team in ice-time per-game at 22:28 and second amongst team defensemen with 36 points. He will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Stone held a 46.62 score and venue adjusted 5-on-5 CF% and a plus-0.15 score and venue adjusted 5-on-5 CF% Rel.

Stone had filed for arbitration and his date was set for Aug. 4. He suffered a knee injury in late March. The recovery time is slated for six months.

The Coyotes currently have $6,342,162 of salary cap space according to General Fanager. This includes the $7.5 million contract of Pavel Datsyuk and $4,941,429 deal of Chris Pronger. Both will not be used this upcoming season.

Arizona still needs to re-sign forward Tobias Rieder, who is coming off a three-year entry-level contract. Last season the 23-year-old Rieder scored 14 goals and had 37 points in 82 games.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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