Sources: Coyotes players told team is relocating to Utah

Matias Maccelli nets OT winner for Coyotes (0:50)

Matias Maccelli slots in the winning goal as the Coyotes outlast the Oilers. (0:50)

Arizona Coyotes players were informed Friday that the team is relocating to Utah, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by PHNX Sports.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong met with the players ahead of their game against the Edmonton Oilers to confirm what had been rumored all week: that the NHL is working to facilitate a sale to Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of the Utah Jazz. The Coyotes will begin playing there next season.

Coyotes players and staff members will be invited to visit Salt Lake City after their season finale to check out the city and facilities.

The NHL and Smith's group have been working on a deal, but sources told ESPN on Friday night that nothing was done yet, and there was plenty of work to do before the deal was finalized.

An announcement is expected next week, at the conclusion of the NHL regular season, sources said. The deal needs to be approved by the NHL's Board of Governors before it is announced.

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has been on a years-long quest to find a permanent home for his club, which has been temporarily playing its home games at Arizona State's Mullett Arena. Meruelo has eyed a plot in the Phoenix area and intends to win a state-run land auction for it on June 27. However, according to sources, the NHL grew skeptical of the timeline and decided it needed a better solution for next season.

The NHL is still interested in returning to Arizona in the future; a league source told ESPN that the deal will allow Meruelo to retain the team name and intellectual property in the hopes of "reactivating" the Coyotes franchise down the line. It's expected that the agreement will give Meruelo the chance to own a Phoenix-based NHL expansion franchise, with an expected price tag of $1 billion, if he successfully builds an arena for the team within five years.

Meruelo and his staff will maintain a youth hockey presence in Arizona and is reportedly still seeking to win the June 27 auction for a 95-acre parcel of land in north Phoenix, where he intends to build an arena, a practice facility, a theater, housing units and retail.

Sources told ESPN that Gary Bettman and NHL leadership convinced Meruelo that the sale -- which will be for $1 billion -- was the best course of action, since it was unfair to players to play at Mullett Arena for the foreseeable future.

Meruelo released a statement on Saturday saying there are a myriad of unresolved issues, and that he would address the concerns about the future of the team "as promptly as possible"

Coyotes players were not available after Friday night's 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton, and coach Andre Tourigny said he would take questions about the game only.

"This team has been through a lot of adversity," Tourigny said. "The first time the rumor came around, we didn't manage it well and we shoot ourselves in the foot, went on a 14-game losing streak. Our guys are showing how proud they are, how much they care for each other and how much they want to have success with each other. It's cool to feel that, cool to see them cheering each other and pushing in the same direction like that."

The plan is for the team to play at the Delta Center, which is owned by Smith and is also home to the NBA's Jazz. However, sources told ESPN that the NHL has made it clear to the Smiths that a hockey-specific upgrade is needed at the Delta Center in order to become the team's permanent home.

Smith already has government support. A bill was passed in the Utah State Senate to help fund a renovated entertainment district downtown in anticipation of an NHL franchise. The bill already has approval from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski and The Associated Press was included in this report.