There are many storylines surrounding the NHL now with the Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing, the Draft Lottery taking place this past Tuesday, and the sale and relocation of the Arizona Coyotes. With that, there are tons of things to talk about, from the playoffs, to the upcoming NHL Draft, as well as what the team formerly known as the Arizona Coyotes will be called after relocating to Utah. So without further wait, let’s dive straight into some of the top headlines around the hockey world.


Stanley Cup Playoffs

Official Site of The ECHL | Stanley Cup® coming to 2024 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic

With the first round of the playoffs over with and the second round now underway, there are many exciting things to look forward to. But the one thing that stands out is a rematch of last year’s first round between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. In the series between the two teams last year, the Bruins took a 3-1 lead before losing three in a row to cough up the series. That Bruins team had set the NHL regular season record for wins and points, but they didn’t make it out of the first round of the postseason. Plus it marked the end of the careers for both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The Bruins had home ice advantage last year, but the Panthers have it this year.

The early result this year has been the Bruins stealing a game in Florida before losing Game Two. Will history repeat itself with the Panthers dashing the Bruins’ dreams, or will the Bruins avenge their loss from last year with their stars shining through in what is set to be a tough back-and-forth battle.

Outside of the Bruins/Panthers series, the other three series include the New York Rangers facing the Carolina Hurricanes (with the Rangers up 2-0), the Dallas Stars facing the Colorado Avalanche with the Avalanche up 1-0), and the Vancouver Canucks facing the Edmonton Oilers, which has not yet begun.

The big story of these three series will be whether or not Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can overcome the Canucks and push for the conference finals. McDavid has cemented himself as the best player in hockey for several years, while Draisaitl has been in contention as the second-best player for years. Will 2024 be the year they finally make a true deep run to the Stanley Cup Finals, or will it continue to be a story of the two best players being on a team that can’t get over the hump, which is now flirting with the danger of becoming the LA Angels of the NHL.


NHL Draft Lottery

Macklin Celebrini - Men's Ice Hockey - Boston University Athletics

The San Jose Sharks won the first overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery this past Tuesday, granting them the privilege of being able to draft Boston University’s Macklin Celebrini. I had the privilege of seeing Celebrini play five times in person this season, and he was impressive every single time. Celebrini became the youngest player to ever win the Hobey Baker Award (17 years old), which is given to the best player in college hockey for the season. He also became the first BU player to win the award since Jack Eichel in 2015. Celebrini was second in the nation with 32 goals and third in the nation with 64 points, yet he had much less help than Boston College’s Will Smith and Cutter Gauthier, who were both top five picks in 2023 and 2022 respectively.

The Sharks will get to put Celebrini alongside the aforementioned Will Smith, who should join the Sharks for the 2024-25 season, and William Eklund as their three young and exciting forwards. The Sharks also have the fourteenth pick in the draft, which they received from Pittsburgh in the Erik Karlsson trade, meaning their future just got a lot brighter. The Sharks will have the option to use all three of these guys on the same line next year, with Eklund being a left winger and Celebrini at center, sliding Smith over from center to right wing. Or they could choose to split them up, with Smith, Celebrini, and captain Logan Couture as centers to bolster their roster down the middle. 

The Chicago Blackhawks won the second pick to pair with the first pick from last year, as the NHL’s lottery only includes the first two picks. After Celebrini at number one, there are question marks all over the board in terms of who will go where. The second pick could be any of Michigan State defenseman Artyom Levshunov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) right winger Ivan Demidov, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) center Cayden Lindstrom, London Knights (OHL) defenseman Sam Dickinson, or somebody else. 

Other notable names who could go in the top five include Kelowna Rockets (WHL) center/left winger Tij Iginla (the son of Jerome Iginla), Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) defenseman Anton Silayev, Jukurit (Liiga) center/right winger Konsta Helenius, USNTDP (U.S. National Team Development Program) left winger Cole Eiserman, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) center Berkly Catton, University of Denver defenseman Zeev Buium, and even more. Opinions on many prospects are so varied that it is difficult to guess who will be picked where within the first fifteen selections come draft day.


Coyotes No More?

Utah awarded new NHL franchise, assumes assets of Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes have been in a bit of a predicament for the past couple of seasons, being without a home and relegated to playing in the 5,000 seat Mullet Arena at Arizona State University. With the NHL starting to grow impatient, it was agreed that the Coyotes would be “sold” to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and that the team would be relocated to Utah, where they will eventually don a new name. Fan voting has begun on different team names, with some name options including the Utah Blizzard, Utah Yeti, and Utah Outlaws. The “new” Utah franchise has some promising players like Clayton Keller, Logan Cooley, and Dylan Guenther, and they also have the sixth pick in the NHL Draft.

It isn’t all over for hockey fans in Arizona, as the Coyotes name can be revived should the Coyotes owner be able to come to an agreement on a new arena. Everything panned out between the NHL and the Coyotes in a very peculiar way. The team wasn’t actually sold and relocated, but the team and hockey operations were actually transferred to a new Utah expansion team. The Coyotes are now “inactive,” with the chance to return should a new arena deal be agreed upon in the next few years. With the NHL looking toward continued expansion, the Arizona Coyotes could come back as the 33rd NHL team, with the NHL potentially reaching as high as 36 teams in the future.


These are just some of the stories and headlines around the NHL at this time, but there’s still more. Will the Toronto Maple Leafs blow it up after losing another Game Seven in Boston to the Bruins? What will happen with the salary cap and the LTIR cap loophole? And which free agents will relocate to new teams? It’s an exciting time in the hockey world, and there are so many things to watch for. Now is the time to kick back, relax, and watch playoff hockey as the 2023-24 NHL season nears its end.

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