The Utah Hockey Club has a name, it has colors, it has a jersey, and it's ready to bring professional hockey back to Salt Lake City for the first time since the 2002 Winter Olympics. With the niceties out of the way, it's time for the NHL's newest city to make its mark on the long and storied history of the game. And getting the most out of a young roster that is approaching the end of a rebuild — as well as adding a couple of additional pieces — will be crucial in that quest.

The roster has remained middling over the last few seasons in Arizona; the Coyotes failed to advance to the postseason in any of the last four campaigns after being eliminated early by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But there were certainly some bright spots in what ended up being Arizona's last season (for now). Logan Cooley burst onto the scene with 44 points in 82 games as a rookie, while Clayton Keller continued showing his star potential with 33 goals and 76 points of his own in just 78 games. As well, Connor Ingram and Karel Vejmelka both had hot stretches between the pipes, and that tandem will likely be running it back in 2024-25.

Still, the Yotes finished second-last in the Central Division with a 36-41-5 record. It was certainly an improvement over the last three seasons, when the team won 28, 25 and 24 games, respectively. But there's hope that, in a new city and with a few key tweaks, this organization can get back to playoff contention as soon as next season. Playing in front of fans who haven't been treated to professional hockey in the state in a long time will only intensify that mission.

For general manager Bill Armstrong, there is a ton to do before Utah HC will be ready for training camp. And here are three moves that should be front of mind as the executive group prepares for the NHL draft and free agent frenzy.

Select a defenseman at No. 6 overall in NHL draft

In the fourth year of the rebuild, Armstrong said recently that despite moving from Arizona to Utah on April 18, nothing has changed in how the hockey operations department is approaching the 2024 NHL draft. On June 28, Utah HC will be equipped with 13 selections, including a critical No. 6 overall pick.

“I think our staff has done a tremendous job at acquiring prospects and going through the draft and just accumulating a good mass of prospects in a short period of time,” Armstrong said earlier this offseason. “So, I think they're excited about the process that we've developed here and the talent, not only that we've drafted but also in our staff that allows us to kind of feed the engine every year.”

Utah has one of the better prospect pools in the NHL, being ranked as high as No. 11 by ESPN back in April. With Cooley and Dylan Guenther now full-time players, the top guys in the pipeline include Dmitri Simashev, Conor Geekie and Josh Doan, the latter who broke onto the scene at the end of last season.

A place where the pipeline falls short is on the defensive side of the puck; the organization lacks a true blue-chip prospect, reported ESPN's Rachel Doerrie. Maveric Lamoureux and Artem Duda project to “be fringe NHL players” at best, and somewhat shockingly, the organization doesn't have a single defenseman under contract for 2024-25.

Each of Sean Durzi, JJ Moser and Juuso Valimaki are set to be restricted free agents on July 1, while Josh Brown and Travis Dermott will be UFA's. And that's the entire defensive corps as of right now, at least according to CapFriendly. So, it goes without saying that this team needs some defensemen.

And there should be a couple of great options available at No. 6, including London Knights' Sam Dickinson, who just won an OHL championship. As well, Carter Yakemchuk, Zeev Buium, Zayne Parekh and Stian Solberg could all be available at that pick. There are a ton of good defenseman high in the draft in 2024, and Armstrong and the front office should absolutely be picking a D-man at No. 6 overall.

Swing for the fences in free agency — Jonathan Marchessault, perhaps?

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) skates against the Dallas Stars during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Once the NHL draft is complete, it will be only a matter of days before free agent frenzy kicks off on July 1. And equipped with an absolute boat load of cap space — upwards of $44 million, per CapFriendly — Armstrong and the front office have the money to throw some huge offers at a couple of players.

And there are some seriously talented pending UFA's who could need a new home. Steven Stamkos is of course at the top of that list, although he'll likely re-up in Tampa Bay. Sam Reinhart is another name, and he's on the verge of winning his first Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers. But maybe the most intriguing player from Utah's perspective is Jonathan Marchessault, who won a championship of his own with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2023 but may have priced himself out of town.

Marchessault, an original ‘Golden Misfit,' has been a heart and soul player for Vegas for over half a decade. But he's going to be due for an enormous raise after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP and following it up with one of the best regular-seasons of his career in 2023-24. Why wouldn't Armstrong make a huge offer to the French Canadian? He would be a huge addition to their top-six, as well as an immediate powerplay threat along with Keller, Cooley and Nick Schmaltz next year.

Throwing money at a couple of top forwards should be a priority for Armstrong and the front office — and maybe it will lead to a star player signing the first big free agency deal in Utah. But as previously mentioned, the defensive unit needs a complete refresh, and that overhaul will likely be a mixture of free agency and the trade market.

Round out the defensive unit through trade market and free agency

Whichever way the front office decides to go at the NHL draft, those returns won't pay off for a few years. And Utah HC needs defenseman now. With all of their cap space, Armstrong could probably bring back four of five of Durzi, Moser, Valimaki, Brown and Dermott. But there's also an opportunity to look outwards, and there are a couple of enticing defenseman on the market.

Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce, two key pieces of an excellent Carolina Hurricanes D-core, will both be UFA's this summer. They could also go after someone like Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy, who is a dependable right-shot blue liner. On the trade market, they could potentially look towards someone like Ottawa Senators' Jakob Chychrun, who has seen his name swirling in trade rumors for months, or maybe a more dependable lower-pairing defenseman like Montreal Canadiens' David Savard.

There are a ton of options, and the front office in Utah has no shortage of money to spend or potential trade chips. That should make this offseason very exciting for the franchise. As hockey finally returns to Salt Lake City, expect that management is going to want to make a big splash or two ahead of hockey at the Delta Centre later this year.