Still looking to add a more physical dimension to their game, the Coyotes signed former Nashville Predator and unrestricted free agent defenseman Cale Hulse on Thursday.
Terms were not disclosed, but NHL sources said the 29-year-old Group V free agent signed a three-year contract that will average about $1.2 million per season — the same figure Hulse earned with the Predators last season.
"This is a guy we’ve been looking at for quite awhile, as far back as the trade deadline last season,’’ said Phoenix general manager Mike Barnett. "He brings an element that we felt got away from us last year, and something we felt was a high priority for us to address.’’
The Coyotes won a bargaining war with the Los Angeles Kings, who were looking to finish off their summer additions (Roman Cechmanek, Jozef Stumpel, Trent Klatt) with a physical blueliner.
Hulse, a native of Edmonton who began his career with New Jersey and
Calgary, played 80 games for Nashville last season (eight points, 121 penalty minutes) and was playing more than 20 minutes a game alongside Kimmo Timonen when the Predators made a late-season playoff run.
In eight NHL seasons, Hulse has collected 71 points and 814 penalty minutes in 498 games.
Hulse played well against the Coyotes and will find some former sparing partners — Shane Doan and Landon Wilson in particular — waiting for him as Phoenix teammates.
"I’m a stay-at-home guy; I like to keep the front of the net clear and make people pay the price,’’ said the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hulse. "I wanted to go to a team where I felt I could make a real contribution and with a team I think can make the playoffs, which is something I’ve missed out on in the past.’’
The Coyotes still have a logjam at defense and the addition of Hulse increases the likelihood of trades to come. Captain Teppo Numminen could be on the move and Phoenix now has five veteran blueliners — Ossi Vaananen, Brad Ference, Todd Simpson, Radoslav Suchy and Hulse — who don’t figure to provide much offense.
"If we don’t make another move between now and then, we’ll have a lot of competition at training camp," Barnett said.
"That’s a good thing.’’