Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The AHL situation
We are, we are all affiliated

There are going to be, unbelievably, 29 AHL teams this season, which means affiliate-sharing will be down to an all-time low, with only Buffalo and Florida double-teaming the Rochester Americans.

The AHL added three teams this season, all equally colourful in name: Lake Erie Monsters, Quad City Flames and the Rockford IceHogs.

There's been an awful lot of movement in the AHL the past few years, so it's a tad tricky to chart where these teams have come from. Rockford was a long-time UHL team, although it's my understanding that they're coming by way of the defunct Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (even though they'll now be the Blackhawks' affiliate club). The Flames were in Omaha the past two seasons, and the Monsters are a revival of the Utah Grizzlies, who folded in 2005.

A look at every AHL team and their NHL counterpart(s):

NHL Team(s) AHL Affiliates Lower Affiliates ('06-'07)
Anaheim Portland Pirates Augusta Lynx
Chicago Wolves Gwinnett Gladiators
Boston Providence Bruins Johnstown Chiefs
Buffalo, Florida
Rochester Americans Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
Quad City Flames Las Vegas Wranglers
Carolina Albany River Rats Florida Everblades/Arizona Sundogs
Chicago Rockford IceHogs Pensacola Ice Pilots
Colorado Lake Erie Monsters Johnstown Chiefs/Arizona Sundogs
Syracuse Crunch Dayton Bombers/Youngstown SteelHounds
Dallas Iowa Stars Idaho Steelheads
Grand Rapids Griffins Muskegon Fury/Toledo Storm
Springfield Falcons Stockton Thunder/Odessa Jackalopes
Los Angeles
Manchester Monarchs Reading Royals
Houston Aeros Texas Wildcatters/Austin Ice Bats
Hamilton Bulldogs Cincinnati Cyclones
Milwaukee Admirals Cincinnati Cyclones/New Mexico Scorpions
New Jersey
Lowell Devils Trenton Devils
N.Y. Islanders Bridgeport Sound Tigers Utah Grizzlies
N.Y. Rangers Hartford Wolf Pack Charlotte Checkers/Mississippi RiverKings
Binghamton Senators None
Philadelphia Philadelphia Phantoms Wheeling Nailers
San Antonio Rampage Phoenix Roadrunners/Laredo Bucks
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wheeling Nailers
San Jose Worcester Sharks Fresno Falcons
St. Louis Peoria Rivermen Alaska Aces
Tampa Bay
Norfolk Admirals Mississippi Sea Wolves
Toronto Toronto Marlies Columbia Inferno
Manitoba Moose Victoria Salmon Kings
Hershey Bears South Carolina Stingrays

I'm fairly certain I've said this before, but, as I'm sure Oilers fans can attest after last season, having an affiliate matters. You want to be able to control your farm system and have call-ups close whenever you need them, and it helps to have an AHL coach and GM who are onside with trying to develop prospects for the future. Minor-league coaching staff members are also often promoted to the big club, and there are some excellent hockey minds in the AHL (Randy Carlyle, for one, was coaching the Moose just two years ago.)

For some teams last season, the boost they got from their call-ups made a big difference in the standings, and I don't think that can be said for the teams without AHL affiliates of their own. A few NHL teams have even put their farm systems within the same city as the big team (Philadelphia and Toronto) in order to (a) save money and (b) facilitate quick call-ups.

Just a thought as we see the majority of camp hopefuls being reassigned to some of these new teams. If you want a really in-depth picture of teams' prospect systems and development, pay attention to the AHL.



At 11:47 p.m., September 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any plans for the Panthers (as I assume Rochester would stay affiliated with the Sabres) to get an AHL affiliate of their own, bringing the AHL on par with the NHL?

At 12:58 a.m., September 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phoenix is not affiliated with the Roadrunners (ECHL) this season. Instead they are affiliated with the Central Hockey League Arizona Sundogs. No Laredo Bucks, either.

Just sayin'.


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