It may not happen immediately, but at some point Anaheim fans will want to remember this news: Travis Green, who has been pegged as the next in line for an NHL coaching job for a couple years now, could have been the Ducks’ bench boss for 2016-17.
It has become increasingly common for NHL clubs to bring their AHL affiliate closer to home, and the Montreal Canadiens will be the most recent example of a parent club bringing their farm team to the same region.
The Canadiens announced Monday that the St. John’s IceCaps will relocate to Laval, Que., ahead of the 2017-18 season and play the campaign out of Place Bell, a state-of-the-art facility that is set to open ahead of the 2017 campaign.
“The relocation of our AHL affiliate in Laval will be beneficial in several ways, allowing for hockey management to follow the organization’s young prospects and provide players and coaching staff with a great environment, a state-of-the-art hockey venue and a new and enthusiastic fan base,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin in a release. “Until the team relocates to Laval, the coaching staff under head coach Sylvain Lefebvre will continue their work of developing our young players and getting them prepared for the next level. I take this opportunity to thank all IceCaps fans for their loyal support, and I am convinced that Laval hockey fans will stand behind their new team.” Read more
The American League is often seen as a petri dish for future NHL rules, but there’s no chance the NHL will be adopting the minor pro circuit’s recent rule changes regarding fighting. And that’s mostly because it doesn’t have to because it doesn’t face the same issues when it comes to fighting that the AHL does.
And that’s because, even though its teams seem perfectly content to sign one-dimensional players such as Michael Liambas to two-way contracts, it actually doesn’t have the problems a guy such as Liambas brings to the game. Effectively kicked out of two leagues already in his career, Liambas has averaged during his pro career one goal every 21.2 games and one fight in every 2.6. According to hockeyfights.com, Liambas had 20 fights in the AHL last season, which is more than nine entire NHL teams had in 2015-16. In fact, Liambas had three more fights than the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings had combined.
The American Hockey League is taking greater steps to reduce fighting next season.
The league’s board of governors wrapped up its annual meetings in South Carolina this week and changes to penalties for fighting highlighted a number of rule changes for the 2016-17 season.
With the NHL’s salary cap increasing by just $1.6 million for the 2016-17 season, teams will look to their American Hockey League system, and players on cheaper or entry-level deals to help fill out their 23-man roster come October.
Last season, 628 AHL graduates were on opening day rosters making up 84 percent of the NHL’s player pool. After winning the 2015 Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs, Derek Forbort, Nick Shore, Jeff Schultz and Jordan Weal all started the season with the L.A. Kings.
A year after its OHL team left town, the Eastern Ontario city of Belleville may have its sights set on a replacement.
There are whispers and reports in the area that Belleville could become the new home of the Ottawa Senators’ AHL affiliate. The partnership would make sense, logistically at least. Belleville is about 155 miles from Ottawa and the growing trend in hockey is to have the NHL team’s top affiliate nearby to make for quick, easy travel back and forth.
On the opening day of NHL free agency, 131 players signed contracts worth a combined total of more than $650 million, according to capfriendly.com. While Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, David Backes and Andrew Ladd dominated headlines, signing big-money deals as the best players available, most teams were also filling gaps in organizational depth with signings you may not have even heard about.