Ever since Tilman Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets of the NBA in September 2017, the market has been the center of much speculation that an NHL franchise could soon be heading there. Fertitta has expressed public interest in bringing the NHL to Houston, and visited the league offices to speak with the commissioner’s office about what it would take. None of that means in the slightest that there is actually going to be a second Texas-based team in the near future, but it does keep Houston at the forefront of any expansion or relocation speculation.
Today Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reported on Twitter that Fertitta has had “preliminary talks” regarding the purchase and relocation of the Arizona Coyotes, though the Rockets’ owner would not comment on the story. There have been other rumors recently that the Coyotes are speaking with potential buyers, but absolutely no indication that they or the league would be interested in relocation at this time. Expansion, the other option for potentially getting a team to Houston, is also seemingly off the table for the time being given that Seattle has just been introduced. The NHL has fought hard to keep the Coyotes in Arizona for years, even through struggles with the fan base, arena and on-ice product. While this report doesn’t undo any of that, it once again indicates that there is an interested owner ready to pounce should the league’s position change.
- Timothy Liljegren has been replaced on the Swedish World Junior preliminary roster by Philip Broberg, due to the ankle injury he suffered recently. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect would have been one of the country’s returning players after taking home a silver medal last season. Broberg meanwhile is a potential first-round pick in the upcoming draft, and could improve his stock even further with a top performance as a 17-year old. The smooth-skating defenseman can take over a game with his puck-moving skills, and has the size to really be a difference maker at the NHL level.
- Matt Hunwick is set to head to the AHL on a conditioning stint in order to get back in game shape after a long rehab process. The former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was traded to the Buffalo Sabres along with Conor Sheary this summer, but has yet to play a game for the organization. There isn’t a ton of room on the Sabres blue line for the veteran when everyone is healthy, but the way Sabres defensemen have been suffering injuries he may be needed as soon as possible. Hunwick is in the second season of a three-year contract that carries a $2.25MM cap hit, and is currently on long-term injured reserve.