The Arizona Coyotes have continued their proactive first day of free agency by bringing back two familiar faces to the team.
Forward Nick Bjugstad is back with the Arizona Coyotes after spending a brief amount of last season playing for the Edmonton Oilers, where he scored four goals and had six points in 19 regular season games.
The 30-year-old center then followed up this with three goals in 12 playoff appearances for the Oilers, fitting in predominantly on the team’s third line as they progressed to the second round of the playoffs, ultimately falling short in six games to eventual Stanley Cup champions the Vegas Golden Knights.
Prior to his stint with Edmonton, Bjugstad was having a fairly strong season for the Coyotes. In 59 regular season games in the desert, the Minneapolis, Minnesota native scored 13 goals and had 23 points, playing a larger role on the team with an average of 16:59 on the ice.
He threw plenty of hits in his role with the Coyotes, 119 in total, and he had become a popular figure among the fanbase, who will undoubtedly be delighted to see him donning the kachina once again.
Bjugstad’s return immediately bolsters the team’s center depth, which was lacking somewhat behind Barrett Hayton, and is another step forward for the team’s hopes of progressing beyond the bottom dwellers of the league this year.
Alongside the returning Bjugstad, is defenseman Troy Stecher, who also played for the Coyotes last season before being traded to the Calgary Flames.
With the Flames, the right-shot blueliner featured in 20 regular season games, scoring three goals and registering seven total points during that time, an improvement on his seven assists put up across 61 games with the Coyotes.
Unfortunately, Stecher did not get to taste playoff hockey this season as the Flames finished fifth in the Pacific Division, falling seven points behind the Seattle Kraken.
Preferring to play in his own end, Stecher was a valued part of the Coyotes’ defensive group last year, where he also averaged 16:59 while on the ice, and he will be viewed as a welcome re-addition for head coach André Tourigny, who already showed how he is able to get the team moving in the right direction.
Having two valuable veterans back in the line-up next season will be a boost for the Coyotes, who landed Jason Zucker and Alex Kerfoot earlier in free agency, with the team beginning to round out nicely after day one.