So Many Utah Hockey Club Signings, What Do They All Mean?

Jul 3, 2024, 3:15 PM


General manager Bill Armstrong of the yet to be named NHL Utah hockey team smiles as he and head coach Andre Tourigny (not in photo) speak during a news conference at the Delta Center on April 24, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The NHL has allowed the sale of the Arizona Coyotes and the team will relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – In the past two months, we’ve found out we were getting an NHL team, then we got to meet the players and then we got to vote in the first two rounds of the “Name Our Team” campaign.

Now, we’ve had a draft, a major trade, and started signing free agents. For those not used to the NHL, I felt like maybe I should explain some of what is happening and how it is different than what the Utah Jazz or the NFL does.

What Does The NHL Offseason Look Like?

The Draft – Like baseball, the NHL drafts players that are 18 to 20 or will be at least 18 years old by September 15th of the draft year.
The expectation, for most of these players, is that they will go to a rookie development camp with their new NHL team, get some coaching and set some development goals, and then return to either their junior or NCAA club to develop for another season or two, at which point they would either sign and join their NHL team, or sign and report to their teams AHL (AAA) or ECHL (AA) affiliate.
There is no cap hit for these players until they sign their entry-level contract.
Roster Sizes – The NHL allows a maximum of 50 standard player contracts per team. NHL teams carry 23 players. The teams can only dress 18 skaters and 2 goalies for games. The rest of the players are assigned to farm clubs.

Utah HC’s Offseason Moves So Far

Trades – U.H.C. surprised everyone when they traded for 2-time Stanley Cup Winner Mikhail Sergachev. I think the biggest surprise was that Tampa was willing to let him go.

Sergachev 26, is one of the top defensemen in the league, he immediately becomes Utah’s number one D-man, taking pressure off our future and long-term number one Sean Durzi. He also becomes our highest-paid player, with 7 seven years left on his $8.5 million per year deal.
The cost was high, with Utah giving up former 2nd-round pick JJ Moser and 2022 1st-round pick (11th overall) Connor Geekie. Expect Sergachev to lead the team in minutes played each night.
Utah also traded draft picks to get defenseman John Marino from the New Jersey Devils. Marino, 27, has played 328 regular season games with New Jersey and Pittsburgh. Marino is a solid shut-down defensive player that can switch from defense to attack.
Free Agent Signings – Most of the names you have seen posted as signing for the team were restricted free agents that the team already had rights to, including several that will continue to play in the minors.
One of those names is former Utah Grizzlies forward Travis Barron. Barron played 68 games for Tucson last season.
Utah signed another 2-time Stanley Cup Champion defensemen Ian Cole to a one-year contract. Cole has experience with both veteran-heavy teams competing for the cup, like Tamp Bay and Pittsburgh, and younger teams like Vancouver that are just about to put all of their pieces together to come out of their rebuild phase to become contenders.
Utah also signed recent Stanley Cup winner Kevin Stenlund. Stenlund, 27, has been up and down from the AHL to NHL for most of his career, but found a niche in Florida last season, playing mostly on their 3rd or 4th lines, but being used as a faceoff specialist for the Panthers in their cup run.
If you’re old enough to remember Rich Chernomaz from the Salt Lake Golden Eagles days, you’ll understand the signings of Kevin Connauton and Andrew Agozzino. Both players will play games for the Utah Hockey Club, but their primary role is to be veteran leadership and mentors for our up-and-coming prospects in Tucson in the AHL.

Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com. The show is hosted by KSL Sports’ hockey insider, Jay Stevens. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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So Many Utah Hockey Club Signings, What Do They All Mean?