WICHITA, Kan. – One of the first things on newly-minted Thunder head coach Bruce Ramsay‘s checklist is done, keep the affiliation. Friday, the Edmonton Oilers announced the renewal of the player development affiliation with the Wichita Thunder for the upcoming season.
Under the affiliation agreement, the Oilers will be able to designate players within their development system for assignment with the Thunder. The club will also be composed of players who are signed to NHL and AHL contracts in addition to those on ECHL contracts (under agreement with the Thunder).
“On behalf of Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers, we’re very excited to extend our affiliation agreement with the Wichita Thunder,” said Bill Scott, Director of Salary Cap Management & Assistant to the President of Hockey Operations. “We believe in new Head Coach Bruce Ramsay to develop our prospects in a positive, winning environment that will lead to success for the Thunder and Oilers. Wichita has been a terrific partner and we are pleased to continue our relationship together.”
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with the Edmonton Oilers and help develop future prospects that could end up playing in the NHL”, stated Ramsay. “I’ve known Bill Scott for a number of years, have had a good working relationship in the past and know him to be a quality person. With his help, I’m looking forward to assisting in building a winning culture in all three organizations.”
This will mark the third year Edmonton and Wichita have been affiliated, making it the fourth-longest ECHL affiliation Edmonton has had. Their longest was a seven-year pact with the Stockton Thunder from 2006-12.
Last year, netminders Shane Starrett, Stuart Skinner, and Dylan Wells; forwards Colin Larkin, Nolan Vesey, and John McFarland; plus defensemen Jake Kulevich and Jared Wilson all saw action in Wichita. Additionally, defenseman Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin and forward Ryan Van Stralen were signed to AHL two-way deals, but never logged regular-season minutes in Bakersfield.
Eleven players from last year’s Thunder squad earned call-ups to the AHL, including nine to the Condors.
With the expected roster turnover in Edmonton, it is unclear how this will affect Bakersfield and Wichita moving forward. The upheaval has already started in the Oilers front office, with General Manager Ken Holland bringing aboard head coach Dave Tippett and new assistants to be named soon.
One good piece of news for the entire Edmonton chain is that Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft will be behind the bench for his second season in Bakersfield. Last season, the Condors went on a 17-game winning streak (tied for second-longest in AHL history with the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms) but were eliminated in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs by the San Diego Gulls.
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