NHL

Answering Questions Surrounding Potential Arizona Coyotes Move To Utah

Apr 11, 2024, 5:14 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm

Arizona Coyotes NHL To Utah...

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 10: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal against Connor Ingram #39 of the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of their NHL game at Rogers Arena on April 10, 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

(Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – With the potential relocation of the Arizona Coyotes taking center stage in Utah, here are some answers to the biggest questions surrounding the NHL coming to Salt Lake City.

NHL Insider Frank Seravalli and NHL reporter Ian Mendes both joined the KSL Sports Zone this week to address reports surrounding the Arizona Coyotes’ potential relocation to Utah.

When Would An Official Announcement Come Out?

After reports came out that there was “significant and meaningful progress” in the framework of a deal that would move the Arizona Coyotes to Utah, hockey fans were left wondering when the move could be finalized.

Despite the talks moving in a very clear direction, it is just as clear that the process isn’t done just yet.

“The three sides are either very close or have an actual agreement in place that needs to be papered, signed, and lawyered,” Seravalli said. “It’s advanced to a stage where a lot of people feel comfortable in saying behind the scenes that this is going to happen.”

Seravalli said that he had heard from multiple people that April 18 is a date to look out for.

“All bets are off right now because we don’t know how the NHL is going to react to the news,” Seravalli said. “I don’t think they’re one to make announcements before all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted. April 18 was a date that was floated to me by multiple people. It just happens to coincide with the day after the Coyotes play their final regular season home game. Some people think that’s when a formal announcement would be made.”

 

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What Changes Would Be Made To The Coyotes Franchise?

The last time an NHL team was relocated was back in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

That franchise went through major changes including a rebrand and major turnaround in the front office. However, those changes were made because the Thrashers found little to no success in their 12 years in Atlanta.

If the Coyotes were to come to Utah, fans can expect to see most of the front office and roster come over with the franchise.

“It is pretty typical for most of the assets of the team to be brought over,” Seravalli said. “The guys who are under contract are the players that you would be expecting to be playing in Salt Lake City next season if it happens. Typically, the coach, general manager, and all of those things move over.”

Who Is The Coyotes Head Coach?

Currently, the Coyotes head coach is André Tourigny.

Tourigny has coached hockey for over two decades. He coached in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for 12 years and the Ontario Hockey League for three years.

Prior to taking the head coaching position with Arizona in 2021, Tourigny held assistant coaching positions in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators.

Tourigny also has experience coaching the Canada men’s national junior ice hockey team.

Tourigny has won the Coach of the Year award in the QMJHL, OHL, and Canadian Hockey League.

Would Utah Rather Get An Expansion Team Or A Relocated Team?

The Las Vegas Golden Knights came in as an expansion team in 2017 and immediately became an NHL powerhouse. Some people have questioned if an expansion team would be better than bringing the Coyotes to town.

“What’s exciting about Salt Lake if this does happen,” Seravalli said. “Instead of wanting to start from scratch with an expansion team, if I were in Ryan Smith’s shoes, I’d much rather start with the Coyotes. You’ve got building blocks of good players, you’ve got some fantastic prospects, you’ve got an arsenal of draft picks, and you’ve got a team that showed a ton of fight.”

The Coyotes were never able to find much success. In 19 years, the Yotes won more than 40 games just three times and finished first in the division once.

However, for the first time in a while, the Coyotes have shown a lot of promise. They have one of the brightest futures in the NHL currently.

“They’re on their way,” Seravalli said. “They’ve got a long way to go. But, this is a much better scenario to introduce hockey to your market. In this case, I think this Coyotes team could be really good in a 2-3 year period of time.”

Mendes shared the same thoughts as Seravalli.

He believes that SLC could greatly benefit from relocation as the Coyotes have been stockpiling prospects and draft assets in recent years.

“It’s actually a pretty good team,” Seravalli said. “A good collection of young players. They’ve got some super-talented kids there. Clayton Keller is kind of a game-changer. If they come in and get the support financially, I don’t think it’s impossible that in a year or two from now, they could be a legitimate playoff team.”

How Long Would It Take To Contend?

So far this season, the Coyotes have 34 wins, 40 losses, and 5 losses in overtime, giving them 73 points on the season with 3 games left to play. For this season, they would have needed around 90 points for a wildcard spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The NHL salary cap for the 2023-24 season was $83.5 million, and the floor was $61.7 million. The Coyote’s salary this season was $78,112,174, leaving them roughly $5.5 million in cap space. Next year the cap is expected to go up another $4 million.

After this season, the two highest-paid players on the Coyotes will be Clayton Keller at $7,150,000 and Shea Weber.

Keller, the 2016 7th overall pick, has been almost a point-per-game player for the Coyotes this season, which really says something with as bad as this team has been at times. Keller is under contract until the 27-28 season.

Weber is a legendary defenseman with an even more legendary shot. He is under contract until the 2025-26 season.

Almost the entire rest of the Coyotes Defense will have their contracts expire after this season, which makes room for ownership to create something special.

The Coyotes have 34 draft picks in the next three years, 3 first-rounders, and a bunch of second-rounders.

The Coyotes have historically found ways to rid themselves of talented players as they get good enough to earn bigger paychecks. Still, in doing so, they have really stacked their deck with a deep pool of talented prospects and a lot of up-and-coming draft picks.

Combine those two facts with cap space, the possibility of putting a good team on the ice with new ownership is a strong one.

Even without hitting the top of the cap, this team could easily be a playoff contender with a chance at making a deeper run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

How Did NHL To Utah Go From Dream To Very Realistic Possibility?

Just a few weeks ago, it felt like any word on the NHL coming to Utah was just rumors and speculation.

We know that Ryan Smith has been in talks with the NHL for a couple of years now. But, the outlook on the situation changed basically overnight.

“This thing went from 0 to 60 in the last 24 hours,” Mendes said. “The moment when I first realized that this has some legitimate traction was at the end of January when SEG put out that statement. I think this has been going on and just in the last 24 hours it has really burst into the public sphere.”

RELATED: Ryan Smith, SEG Formally Requests NHL Expansion Team To Utah

Report: ‘Significant Progress’ Made On Agreement To Bring Coyotes To Utah

The NHL to SLC movement has been picking up steam and there is reportedly “significant and meaningful progress” in the framework of a deal that would move the Arizona Coyotes to Utah.

On Wednesday, Seravalli reported that Coyotes players were informed of a verbal agreement between Arizona and Utah regarding relocation.

“I would say that it’s a step further than that,” Seravalli said. “The NHL has sent a memo to the board of governors. It’s been sent to a very, very small circle of owners. They’re trying to keep the circle tight. There was an acknowledgment to Coyotes players that something is happening. I do think that the three sides are either very close or have an actual agreement in place that needs to be papered and signed.”

In terms of when an actual announcement could come regarding relocation, Seravalli said it could be as soon as this month.

The deal is not done. But, Utah hockey fans definitely have something to be excited about.

“This is developing rapidly,” Seravalli said. “It’s not done. They’ve made significant and meaningful progress to sell the Arizona Coyotes franchise to Ryan Smith and Smith Entertainment Group and bring NHL hockey to Salt Lake City in time for puck drop in October. April 18 is a date that has been floated around.”

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Answering Questions Surrounding Potential Arizona Coyotes Move To Utah