As the Phoenix Coyotes head into the summer with all signs pointing to their ownership situation finally being resolved, they can turn their attention to the draft and their unsigned free agents. While there are many forwards who still don’t have deals for next season, there is only one defenseman who finished the season with the Coyotes who isn’t signed for next season. That player is Michael Stone, a restricted free agent who the Coyotes should strongly think about bringing back.
Stone saw more NHL action in the shortened season than ever before, and he scored five goals while adding four assists. That may not seem like much production, but it’s not that bad for a third-pairing defenseman who saw minimal time on the power play. Stone was a third round pick of the Coyotes in 2008, and has spent the majority of the last three seasons developing in the AHL. He looked ready for full-time NHL duty this season, and while he isn’t likely to have the impact that Oliver Ekman-Larsson has had for the team, he provides great value as a depth defenseman and has good size (6-3, 200). Stone finished the season with a plus-2 rating and only 16 penalty minutes, making the most of his time on the ice. He’ll see a little salary bump (his entry-level contract had a cap hit of less than $850,000) but given his performance and the Coyotes’ need to see some of the young talent they’ve developed finally make an impact in the NHL, he’s still quite a bargain.