HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The American Hockey League suffered from a classic case of “burying the lede” when they used the bottom half of their annual Board of Governors wrap-up release to announce the league will be adding a 31st team prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
According to the release, the AHL Board of Governors has made a “commitment to an expansion applicant,” adding “this commitment assures that all 31 NHL clubs will have a full primary affiliation in the AHL for 2018-19 and beyond.”
Speculation has centered around the Colorado Eagles as being the team to make the move from the ECHL to the AHL. Thursday’s announcement by the AHL will only intensify that speculation and adds validity to earlier reports from Bleacher Report and Denver Post.
The AHL said in the release that “The process of concluding related agreements is not yet complete; once those agreements are in place the NHL and AHL clubs involved will jointly announce them.”
It is possible that the series of moves could look something like this:
The Colorado Avalanche purchase the Eagles and turns them into the AHL club. It is not known if the Budweiser Events Center, currently owned by Larimer County, would be a part of the purchase.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues could align with the San Antonio Rampage, thus ensuring all 31 NHL teams have an AHL affiliation. Currently, the St. Louis Blues do not have a primary AHL affiliate as their arrangement with the Chicago Wolves ended at the end of the 2016-17 season. But for this season only, the Blues will continue sending their top prospects to Chicago.
For this coming season, the Avalanche will continue putting their top prospects in San Antonio.
We will continue to stay on this story and have more as details become available.