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.
BUFFALO – Last night was huge for center Clayton Keller. The dazzling NTDP product went seventh overall to Arizona, giving the Coyotes a player with a Patrick Kane-like skill set. It was also a victory for smaller players, as Keller is one of the few top-10 picks in recent years to come in at 5-foot-10 or less.
But Keller can’t rest too much on his accomplishments in Buffalo; he’s got a big decision on his hands. Will he play for Boston University next season, or the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires? Is the AHL a possibility? There’s a lot of intrigue involved.
The Coyotes’ purchase and subsequent relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson brought Arizona’s AHL affiliate closer to home, and it has also brought a longtime minor league moniker back from the grave.
Tucson’s new AHL club was officially dubbed the Roadrunners, harkening back to the minor league teams that have used the name over the past 50 years.
“We are very proud to name our AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners,” Coyotes president Anthony LeBlanc said in a release. “The Tucson Roadrunners will build on the great traditions of hockey in Arizona dating back to 1967. Roadrunners was the overwhelming fan favorite during our ‘Name the Team’ contest, and we thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.” Read more
The off-season AHL shuffle began in April when the Springfield Falcons were purchased by the Arizona Coyotes, their parent club, and relocated to Tucson. One month later, Springfield once again had AHL hockey when the Portland Pirates were sold and subsequent moved to Massachusetts. And less than one month after the Pirates relocation was announced, the new Springfield franchise has a name.
It was formally announced Wednesday that Springfield’s AHL club will be called the Thunderbirds and fans were given a first glimpse at the logo in a short video that displayed the rich AHL history in Springfield, which dates back to the league’s first season in 1936. The Springfield Indians, Kings and Falcons have all been part of the city’s AHL history, the latter of which played in the city for the past 22 seasons. Read more