Utah Hockey Club debuts Oct. 8 against Chicago, the same night Panthers raise Stanley Cup banner

Mon, Jul 1, 2024
NHL News (AP)

Utah Hockey Club debuts Oct. 8 against Chicago, the same night Panthers raise Stanley Cup banner

The Utah Hockey Club will play its first regular-season game Oct. 8 against Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks, marking the debut of the NHL in Salt Lake City following the team's move from Arizona.

That same night, the Florida Panthers will raise their first Stanley Cup banner to the rafters in Sunrise, Florida, before facing off against the Boston Bruins.

The NHL released the list of home openers for each of its 32 teams Monday with the full 1,312-game regular-season schedule expected this week.

Utah, which is expected to have a permanent name in time for the 2025-26 season, will play at the Delta Center, home of the NBA's Utah Jazz, an arena that will undergo renovations to provide more unobstructed views for NHL games. The capacity is 16,200 for the inaugural season, with not all directly facing the ice, but the demand has been high with 30,000 season-ticket deposits.

"We are thrilled to play the first regular season game in franchise history, at home, in front of our amazing fans," president of hockey operations Chris Armstrong said. "The eyes of the hockey world will be on Utah when we host the Blackhawks on that historic night, and we look forward to rising to the occasion."

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The second day of the season is rivalry night with the New York Rangers visiting Pittsburgh; Toronto at Montreal; and Colorado at Vegas. Avalanche-Golden Knights is a matchup of the 2022 and '23 Cup champions.

Trade time

In the middle of a free agent frenzy that saw teams around the league commit nearly $1 billion in contracts, some teams in the Eastern Conference made trades to fill important holes.

The Rangers acquired winger Reilly Smith from the Penguins for a 2027 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder in '25. Pittsburgh retained 25% of Smith's salary, meaning New York gets him at $3.75 million for next season. Smith has now been traded twice in just over a year since helping Vegas win the Cup.

Washington followed through on general manager Brian MacLellan's plan to change the mix on defense by acquiring Jakob Chychrun from Ottawa for Nick Jensen and a 2026 third-round pick.

"Jakob is a 26-year-old offensive defenseman who has nearly 500 games of NHL experience," MacLellan said. "His unique skill set and experience will undoubtedly bolster our blue line, substantially increasing our offensive capabilities."

Extension season

The Nashville Predators, who committed more than $110 million to sign free agents Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault, Brady Skjei and Scott Wedgewood, are about to spend even more money to keep their franchise goaltender.

The team and Juuse Saros last week agreed to the framework of an eight-year contract extension that would start in 2025 and run through 2033, a deal that could be finalized and signed any time now.

Toronto also extended its goalie of the present and future, signing Joseph Woll to a three-year, $11 million contract that runs through 2028. Woll is expected to share the net with Anthony Stolarz, who backed up Sergei Bobrovsky on Florida's Cup run after a career-best regular season with a 2.03 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

Philadelphia signed gritty winger Garnet Hathaway to a $4.8 million extension through 2026-27. Hathaway, who will count $2.4 million against the cap during that contract, has been a good fit since signing with the Flyers in free agency a year ago.

"Garnet has been a great addition to our team and we're very happy to extend him ... for the next several seasons," general manager Danny Briere said. "His style of play and level of professionalism had a big effect on our group last season, and he embodies the standard our team set out to build both on and off the ice."

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