NHL Notebook: Sale of Coyotes to Utah made official, Jeff Carter announces retirement, Nikita Kucherov gets 100th assist and more

Photo credit:Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
17 days ago
It’s the final day of the season, but that doesn’t mean that this NHL Notebook won’t be jam-packed!
It’s official: The National Hockey League will see a team relocate for the first time in 13 years, a cup-winning forward announced his retirement and a historical mark was hit once again.
Let’s dig in!

The Arizona Coyotes have been sold to Utah

We all knew it was coming, but it was made official on Thursday afternoon that the franchise will be moving to Salt Lake City, Utah to begin the 2024-25 season. It was a unanimous vote from the Board of Governors for the sale to Ryan Smith (not to be confused with the former Oiler) and the relocation to the state of Utah.
The Coyotes were relocated from Winnipeg and started playing in Arizona during the 1996-97 season. They made the playoffs in five of their first six seasons but were unable to win a round. The then-Phoenix Coyotes missed the next six playoffs (and the 2004-05 lockout) before making the playoffs in 2009-10 and 2010-11, losing in the first round each time.
Phoenix finally won a playoff round in 2011-12, and then another one, before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in 2012, the Los Angeles Kings. This, along with Mike Smith’s play (.944 save percentage and 1.99 goals-against average in 16 games) was the high point of the franchise in Arizona.
The franchise missed the playoffs for the next seven seasons, changing their name to the Arizona Coyotes after the 2013-14 season. Thanks to the Pandemic, the Coyotes got into the Qualifying Round, defeating the Nashville Predators and making the playoffs outright. However, they were dispelled in five games at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.
It looked like the franchise was on the cusp of making the playoffs once again, as on January 3rd, 2024, they were in the final Wild Card position. Even before the All-Star break, they were just five points out of a playoff position and on a three-game losing streak. However, that three-game losing streak quickly became a 14-game losing streak, and they were well and out of the playoffs by the time they beat the Ottawa Senators.
It didn’t help that rumours of the team moving started around that time, surely unsettling the players, as there’s a lot more to do in Phoenix than Salt Lake City.
That said, the city may eventually get another team, as former owner Alex Meruelo is planning on bidding for a lot to build a new stadium. When done, they could potentially get a new franchise, but my heart goes out for all the Coyotes fans.
Jeff Carter announces his retirement
From one pretty sad news piece to another, it was announced shortly after the Penguins 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders that Jeff Carter is retiring.
The 39-year-old was selected with the 11th-overall pick in the 2003 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and spent six seasons with the team, scoring 181 goals and 343 points in 461 games. He was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he spent just 39 games with that team (15 goals, 25 points), before a trade to the Los Angeles Kings.
Carter had the most success there. In 10 seasons, Carter scored 194 goals and 383 points, but he won his first cup the same season he was traded. He and the Kings picked up another cup during the 2013-14 season, where he scored 10 goals and 25 points in the playoff run.
He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the Kings’ rebuild in 2020-21, scoring 52 goals and 100 points in 241 games with the Pennsylvania-based team
Best of luck to Jeff Carter in his life outside of hockey!
Nikita Kucherov picked up his 100th assist
Recently, Connor McDavid became just the fourth player in the sport’s history to pick up 100 assists in the league (it was the 13th time it was done, thanks to Wayne Gretzky). On Wednesday evening, Nikita Kucherov became the fifth player to do so on a Brayden Point goal in the second period.
There was an opportunity for Auston Matthews to also do something that hasn’t been done in 31 years, which was to score 70 goals. However, despite his best efforts (12 shots!), he fell a goal short, ending the season with 69 goals and 107 points. If you’re wondering if 12 shots is a record, it is not, as it was tied for the 74th-most shots in league history.

Dallas will have home ice throughout the playoffs

On Thursday, the Dallas Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues to move them to 113 points on the season. This in turn, clinches the Western Conference for the Texas-based team, as the maximum total of points the Vancouver Canucks can get is 111 with a win on Thursday.
However, the Western Conference, specifically the Central Division bracket, is a gauntlet. The top four teams in the Western Conference are the Stars, the Canucks, and the Winnipeg Jets and the Colorado Avalanche. However, due to the league being dumb, the third-placed Jets and the fourth-placed Avalanche will play each other in the first round, with the winner likely playing the Stars in the second round.
Either way, the Stars will have home ice in the first three rounds regardless of who they play. If the New York Rangers, the Presidents’ Trophy winners, make the finals, the Stars will also get home ice in the finals.
However, their first-round matchup has yet to be determined…

Eastern Conference bracket is set, the Western Conference is not

Thursday is the final day of the regular season, and while the conference has two matchups set – Nashville Predators vs Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche vs Winnipeg Jets – the other two series’ are not.
The Dallas Stars are already in the top spot, while the Edmonton Oilers will get home ice thanks to finishing second in the Pacific Division. However, both the Vegas Golden Knights and the Los Angeles Kings are in action. Currently, the Knights occupy the third spot in the Pacific Division with 98 points, with the Kings in the final Wild Card spot with 98 points.
If the Kings win and the Knights pick up a point or fewer (the Kings have the tiebreaker), the Oilers will play the Kings in the first round for the third consecutive season. If the Knights win or the Kings lose, the Oilers will play the Knights in the first round, who’ll likely have Mark Stone back in the lineup.
Both teams face a team in the bottom of the league, as the Kings will host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 PM MT, and the Golden Knights will host the Anaheim Ducks at 8:00 PM MT.
The Eastern Conference, on the other hand, is all settled. With a Washington Capitals win on Tuesday (despite the Detroit Red Wings’ insane 3.3 goals), they’ll play the New York Rangers beginning Sunday at 1:00 PM MT. The other game on Sunday will be contested against the two Florida-based teams, and that is happening at 10:30 AM MT. Ew.
However, the playoffs start on Saturday, as the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes get things going at 3:00 PM MT. While the Boston Bruins will host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6:00 PM MT.
Get ready for some exciting playoff action!
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