Looking for more defensive depth at the minor league level, the Coyotes signed veteran free agent Mike Wilson to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday.
Wilson practiced with the team and traveled to Portland, Ore., for tonight's preseason game with the San Jose Sharks at the Rose Garden.
Most likely headed to Springfield (Mass.) of the American Hockey League to replace the retired Francois Leroux, the 6-foot-6, 229-pound Wilson has played 336 NHL games over eight seasons with Buffalo, Florida, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers. His best season came with the Panthers in 1999-2000, when he had four goals and 20 points in 60 games.
Wilson, a 1993 first-round draft pick (20th overall) of the Vancouver Canucks, played one game with the Rangers last year and played 50 games in the AHL with Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Pittsburgh) and Hartford (the Rangers.)
After missing the first 10 days of camp with an enlarged spleen, a remnant of the mononucleosis he contracted last spring, Keil McLeod was finally cleared for practice on Tuesday and is available for the two-game preseason road trip.
“Fortunately, I was able to work out and keep my conditioning up. But not being able to take part in camp has been frustrating,'' said the 6-6, 230-pound McLeod, who was held out of all contact by doctors. “It felt great to be out there and I hope I'll get a chance to play right away. I have some catching up to do and I have something to prove.''
Just 20, McLeod signed with Phoenix as a free agent after he failed to come to a contract agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is expected to center one of the top two lines for Springfield this season.
After cutting seven players on Monday, Phoenix coach Bob Francis said he will make another cut after the next two road games, leaving less than 30 players for the final week and three games of the preseason.
The reasoning is twofold. Francis wants to get down to one practice group (there are currently two) and Springfield will open its training camp later this week, giving those players sent down a seamless transition.
“It's time to get down to the players that have a legitimate chance of making this team and making the decisions that are still left,'' he said.