Changes in AHL/ECHL affiliations for 2009-10

By Chris Roberts
NHL Team Current AHL Team Current ECHL Team 
Anaheim DucksSan Antonio Rampage*Bakersfield Condors
Atlanta ThrashersChicago WolvesGwinnett Gladiators
Boston BruinsProvidence BruinsReading Royals*
Buffalo SabresPortland PiratesN/A
Calgary FlamesAbbotsford Heat*N/A
Carolina HurricanesAlbany River RatsFlorida Everblades
Chicago BlackhawksRockford IcehogsToledo Walleye*
Colorado AvalancheLake Erie MonstersCharlotte Checkers*
Columbus Blue JacketsSyracuse CrunchGwinnett Gladiators*
Dallas StarsTexas Stars*Idaho Steelheads
Detroit Red WingsGrand Rapids GriffinsToledo Walleye*
Edmonton OilersSpringfield FalconsStockton Thunder
Florida PanthersRochester AmericansFlorida Everblades
Los Angeles KingsManchester MonarchsOntario Reign
Minnesota WildHouston AerosN/A
Montreal CanadiensHamilton BulldogsCincinnati Cyclones
Nashville PredatorsMilwaukee AdmiralsCincinnati Cyclones
New Jersey DevilsLowell DevilsTrenton Devils
New York IslandersBridgeport Sound TigersUtah Grizzlies
New York RangersHartford Wolf PackCharlotte Checkers
Ottawa SenatorsBinghamton SenatorsElmira Jackals
Philadelphia FlyersAdirondack Flyers*Kalamazoo Wings*
Phoenix CoyotesSan Antonio RampageLas Vegas Wranglers*
Pittsburgh PenguinsWilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsWheeling Nailers
San Jose SharksWorcester SharksKalamazoo Wings*
St. Louis BluesPeoria RivermenAlaska Aces
Tampa Bay LightningNorfolk AdmiralsN/A
Toronto Maple LeafsToronto MarliesReading Royals
Vancouver CanucksManitoba MooseVictoria Salmon Kings
Washington CapitalsHershey BearsSouth Carolina Stingrays

* Denotes change

The AHL will remain at 29 teams for the 2009-10 season, leaving one NHL team without a sole minor league affiliate. Last season, it was the Dallas Stars that had the inconvenience of sending their prospects to four different AHL teams – Hamilton, Manitoba, Peoria, and Grand Rapids. For the upcoming season, however, Dallas has been granted their own farm team as the Texas Stars enter the AHL. The Iowa Chops, Anaheim’s former farm team, have been placed on involuntary suspension and the Ducks will share the San Antonio Rampage with the Phoenix Coyotes as their first tier minor-league affiliate.

The ECHL is undergoing plenty of changes for the upcoming season, especially in regards to switching NHL affiliations. Seven NHL teams will have new ECHL affiliates for the 2009-10 season.

The AHL

With Texas coming in and Iowa suspended, the AHL remains at 29 teams. The Stars franchise has only been granted limited membership into the league, which is conditioned on the completed purchase of an existing AHL franchise within one year.

In Iowa’s case, the franchise was given the suspension cited under a lack of payment on the affiliation contract. Club owners also used the franchise as collateral to achieve a loan worth nearly two million dollars, which is a violation of AHL rules. Anaheim will send the majority of its prospects to San Antonio.

Relocation

While only one new team has been added to the AHL in the off-season, that is not to say there won’t be AHL hockey in fresh markets this season. The Philadelphia Phantoms, an AHL franchise since 1996, will be relocated to Glens Falls, New York and become the Adirondack Phantoms.

Meanwhile, the AHL has gained another franchise in the Canadian market as the short-lived Quad City Flames relocated to Abbotsford, British Columbia. Quad City was the home of the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate for two seasons. The new team in Abbotsford will be titled the Heat.

The ECHL

The ECHL will be just 20 teams for the 2009-10 season. The Dayton Bombers, Mississippi Sea Wolves and the Phoenix Roadrunners have all disbanded and been removed from the league for various reasons. The Bombers’ owner turned the team’s membership back to the ECHL, electing not to run the team without a suitable business partner. The Sea Wolves have decided to move to the Southern Professional Hockey League, while the Phoenix Roadrunners simply announced they would cease operations at the end of last season.

With the loss of three teams, the league announced an expansion franchise – the Kalamazoo Wings. The San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers will share affiliations with the Wings. Also, formerly named the Storm, the Toledo franchise will return to the ECHL with the name Toledo Walleye. They will receive prospects from both the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Las Vegas Wranglers reached an agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes and Phoenix will have the sole rights to sending prospects to the Las Vegas franchise. The Wranglers have been one of the more competitive teams in the ECHL the past four seasons. They had previously been affiliated with Calgary.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, for the third straight season, will have a new ECHL affiliate. After unsuccessful one-year agreements with Elmira and last season, Johnstown, the Blue Jackets will be sending players to the Gwinnett Gladiators. The Gladiators are also an affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Charlotte Checkers, the New York Rangers primary ECHL affiliate, entered into a secondary affiliation agreement this off-season. They will now take players from the Colorado Avalanche and their AHL affiliate, Lake Erie Monsters.

The Boston Bruins have also gained an ECHL affiliate. The Reading Royals, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ECHL affiliate, and the Bruins agreed on an affiliation contract in the off-season to round out the flurry of affiliation changes throughout the ECHL.