NHL

2024 Offseason Preview For Utah’s NHL Team

May 25, 2024, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The questions I get most are, “What is our team name going to be?” and “Will we be good enough to make the playoffs?”

Offseason preview for Utah’s NHL franchise

Utah’s current predicament is unique. They have one of the fewest players under standard player contracts signed for the upcoming season in the NHL. Utah has 13/23 spots signed; Buffalo has 12/23. Utah also has an estimated $40 million plus to spend this offseason.

This situation could be where Utah general manager Bill Armstrong can make the most impact on this new franchise, most significantly on the defensive side, where only a few players are under contract beyond 2024-25.

Only two of Utah’s back end are unrestricted free agents, Josh Brown and Travis Dermott. The rest are restricted free agents, including the top pairing of Sean Durzi (one of our favorite interviews on the Utah Puck Report) and J.J. Moser.

 

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Durzi thrived in the opportunity to be the Coyotes’ number-one defenseman last season, his first with the Coyotes after acquiring him from the Kings. Durzi had a career-best 41 points and a -1 rating in 76 games, averaging 22:43 per game and quarterbacking their top power-play unit. Durzi grew and learned from his time with future Hall Of Famer Drew Doughty while playing with the Kings. If Armstrong picks up an experienced defenseman who could take pressure off of Durzi while also being a mentor, it could only help Durzi become the long-term number-one defenseman for the franchise.  Expect Durzi to receive a four-year deal worth around $5.9MM per season.

Moser, who was also solid this season with 26 points and a -5 rating in 80 games paired with Durzi, also needs a new deal. The 23-year-old 2021 2nd-round pick from Switzerland has just completed his entry-level contract.

Up front, the Coyotes were decent; they ranked 16th in the league in scoring 3.1 goals per game. The majority of our forwards are still under contract. Only Barrett Hayton is an RFA. Enforcer and fan favorite  Liam “Spicey Tuna” O’Brien is an unrestricted free agent. However, after stealing the show at the “Meet the Players” pep rally at the Delta Center and being loved by his teammates, O’Brien is expected to be signed soon. Expect a big offseason spending spree by an aggressive GM with draft picks and money to spend. Trades and, as Danny Ainge put it, “Big Game Hunting” to surround this young, super-talented core. Names like Tyler Myers, Brady Skjei, Matt Roy, and Alec Martenez fit that bill. The team also needs a solid center for their 2nd line to balance all four lines. Look for that piece through a trade rather than free agency. The new NHL salary cap will be $87.7mm; expect Utah to get close to that, and then expect Utah to make the playoffs in their first NHL season.

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RELATED: Top 2024 NHL Draft Prospects For Utah

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2024 Offseason Preview For Utah’s NHL Team