In a surprising move, the Coyotes brought back another one of their own free agents Friday when they signed Brad Ference to a one-year deal worth $660,000.
Ference was originally scheduled to make around $1 million this season after the 24 percent salary rollback. He became an unrestricted free agent when Phoenix didn't make him a qualifying offer last month. He will likely be the team's seventh defenseman.
Ference, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, had five assists and 103 penalty minutes in 63 games for the Coyotes in 2003-04.
Ference joined the Coyotes on March 8, 2003 in a trade with Florida. In five NHL seasons, Ference, 26, has scored four goals and recorded 30 assists in 245 games.
Phoenix's chances of bringing back free agent goalie Sean Burke may be waning.
The Coyotes have had talks with the 38-year-old veteran, but he has also drawn interest from other clubs, including Pittsburgh.
An NHL source said the Penguins have offered Burke a multiyear contract in excess of $1 million a season to be their No. 1 goalie.
Burke would start more than 50 games while grooming the Penguins' goalie of the future, Marc-Andre Fleury, the top overall pick in the 2003 draft, and playing with NHL legend Mario Lemieux and superstar-to-be Sidney Crosby, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
Burke, who lives in the Valley, has said in the past he would like to return to the Coyotes, who he played for from the 1999-2000 season through 2003-04.
Burke likely wouldn't get as much money from Phoenix and would be a backup to Brian Boucher, who earlier this week signed a one-year contract for $900,000.