July 28, 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes locked up two of their best young defenseman on Thursday, signing Connor Murphy to a six-year contract and Michael Stone to a one-year deal

Murphy's deal is for $23.1 million with a salary cap hit of $3.85 million. Stone's deal, which allows him and the team to avoid a salary arbitration hearing next week, is worth $4 million.

''We're happy to get these two guys signed,'' Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. ''Both right shots, which are obviously difficult to find. Both had good years, career years last year and really bought into what the coaching staff was trying to preach with more involvement from the back end in our offense and moving pucks more efficiently.''

Murphy elevated his game last season, often pairing with All-Star Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and led Team USA with three goals during this year's world championships.

The 23-year-old had six goals and 11 assists in 78 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16, his second full NHL season. He has 11 goals and 21 assists in 181 career games after being drafted with the 20th overall pick of the 2011 NHL draft.

''I can't say enough about how fortunate I am to have a management and ownership and team that believes in me and puts trust in where they think I'm going to be,'' Murphy said.

The 26-year-old Stone had six goals and set a career high with 36 points last season. He also led the team with 143 blocked shots despite suffering season-ending ACL and MCL injuries in late March.

Stone has 23 goals and 64 assists in 279 career NHL games, all with the Coyotes.

''I would love to be here long term. That's a goal (but) things are a little uncertain with my injury,'' Stone said. ''The one-year deal is going to give me a chance to prove myself and hopefully, we can look at something longer down the road.''

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