The American Hockey League is a great place for NHL clubs to develop their younger players. With an opportunity for ice time, oftentimes young players benefit greatly. NHL rosters are very competitive, therefore the relationship with NHL clubs and their AHL affiliates cannot be overlooked. As of May 16th, the Chicago Wolves of the AHL are now the official affiliate for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Wolves a winning combo?
By sending players to their affiliate team, the Golden Knights will strive to build a winning culture for both clubs. Golden Knight’s GM George McPhee and Wolves owner Don Levin agree the partnership will produce great players. Developing players, combined with success on the ice is important for creating a positive atmosphere. “If you look at George McPhee’s history, he has always been a general manager who believes that winning is an important part of developing players,” Levin said. While McPhee was the GM for the Washington Capitals, their AHL affiliate club named the Hershey Bears won three Calder Cup championships. “American Hockey League affiliates play a significant role in the success of all NHL clubs and are we are proud to have the Chicago Wolves as our first in team history,” McPhee said.
Recent AHL to NHL successes
Finding a recent example of an AHL player making an impact when moving up to the NHL is not hard. Back in November, the Pittsburgh Penguins recalled forward Jake Guentzel from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Not only is Guentzel making the most of his chance in the NHL, he is proving to be a crucial piece for Pittsburgh’s playoff run. Guentzel recorded two assists in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Ottawa Senators, helping tie the series heading into Game 5. Through 16 playoff games, Guentzel has averaged a point per game, with nine goals and seven assists. Fans of the Vegas Golden Knights will hope for similar results when recalling players from the Chicago Wolves.
Three’s a crowd
The Chicago Wolves signed a 5-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to form the official partnership. The St. Louis Blues chose to not extend their contract with the Wolves. The contract lasted four years, with the Wolves winning the Midwest Division twice in that span. The Blues will still be sending players to the Wolves roster in the immediate future as an associate affiliate. Doug Armstrong, GM for the St. Louis Blues said in a statement, “The St. Louis Blues will not renew our primary affiliation with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves past the 2016-17 season. We will associate with the Vegas Golden Knights and supply players to the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate next season.”
ECHL affiliate rumor?
A local site may have found proof of a possible agreement between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL. Nothing is official however the tweet is intriguing.
The Golden Knights will benefit with access to clubs in other leagues. It will give younger players time to hone their craft. Unlike the NBA or NFL, NHL teams do not rely on most rookies to make an impact right away. Golden Knights fans should not be surprised if the rookies from the NHL Entry Draft start their careers with the Chicago Wolves.