Two days ago, Utah Hockey Club had 13 draft picks and zero NHL defensemen. Now, after a whirlwind weekend, the team has four defensemen and 11 new prospects.

Trades and extensions

An audible gasp was heard at the second day of the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced that Mikhail Sergachev had been traded to Utah.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was poised to take the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top defense spot as Victor Hedman phases out. Now he’ll walk into that spot with Utah.

Utah Hockey Club acquired Mikhail Sergachev from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Utah Hockey Club acquired Mikhail Sergachev from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Photo credit: Michael Miller & Wikimedia Commons

A broken fibula and tibia kept Sergachev out of the Lightning’s lineup from Feb. 7 until their penultimate playoff game this year. Many thought it impossible for Sergachev to come back as early as he did, but Sergachev didn’t care. To him, the impossible is just a challenge he has yet to accomplish.

Going the other way in the deal were the rights to unsigned defenseman JJ Moser in addition to prospect Conor Geekie, pick number 199 this year and a 2025 second-round pick.

Sergachev has seven years left on an eight-year deal worth $8.5 million annually.

Utah general manager Bill Armstrong followed the trade up with the acquisition of John Marino and a fifth-round pick in exchange for a pair of second-rounders: one this year and one next year.

Marino is a top-four defenseman with good skating and puck skills. He chips in offensively and is signed to a modest $4.4 million for the next three seasons.

Utah also secured two of their restricted free agent defensemen, Michael Kesselring and Juuso Valimaki.

Draft picks

Team owners Ryan and Ashley Smith joined Utah’s management team on stage at Sphere in Las Vegas to announce the franchise’s first-ever draft pick: centerman Tij Iginla.

Utah Hockey Club selected Tij Iginla sixth overall at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

Utah Hockey Club selected Tij Iginla sixth overall at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

The Iginla surname carries weight around the hockey world, to say the least. Tij’s father, Jarome Iginla, is considered one of the greatest players to never win the Stanley Cup. Tij’s sister, Jade Iginla, plays at Brown University and his brother, Joe Iginla, had five points in five WHL games this year.

Tij Iginla scored 47 goals and added 37 assists in 64 games with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets this year, boosting his draft stock. He played the previous year on a loaded Seattle Thunderbirds team where it was hard for a rookie to get significant playing time. At that point, he was projected to go in the third round or later — not sixth overall.

Utah sent shock waves through Sphere later in the first round when he acquired the 24th-overall pick from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for picks number 38, 71 and a second-rounder next year. It was the most expensive move any team made on Friday, but it was also the largest jump in picks.

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft took place at Sphere in Las Vegas.

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft took place at Sphere in Las Vegas. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Armstrong used that pick to select Cole Beaudoin, who, ironically, very well could have still been available when the 38th pick came around.

At 6’2”, and 209 pounds, Beaudoin fits the bill of players Utah was looking for. Most of their prospects are at least that size and almost all play hard, physical games.

General manager Bill Armstrong praised Beaudoin for his work ethic, more than anything.

If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: Utah’s management team wants big, physical players, and they prioritize centermen and defensemen.

Utah’s picks on the second day of the draft were as follows:

— Pick 65: Will Skahan, defense, 6’5”, 215 pounds

— Pick 89: Tomas Lavoie, defense, 6’4”, 220 pounds

— Pick 96: Veeti Vaisanen, defense, 6’1”, 188 pounds

— Pick 98: Gregor Biber, defense, 6’3”, 187 pounds

— Pick 103: Gabe Smith, center, 6’4”, 208 pounds

— Pick 135: Owen Allard, center, 6’2”, 199 pounds

— Pick 153: Ales Cech, defense, 6’3”, 196 pounds

— Pick 167: Vojtech Hradek, center, 6’4”, 202 pounds

— Pick 190: Ludvig Lafton, defense, 6’2”, 187 pounds

Free agency

Utah will seek to add more to the current roster when free agency opens on Monday. They will likely add at least one or two defensemen and one or two forwards.

For speculation on players whom Utah might target, see Scroll’s recent article on that topic.