The Las Vegas franchise will reportedly have an AHL affiliate in place by the start of 2017, and the franchise appears to be headed for the West Coast with Salt Lake City, Fresno and Reno as potential destinations.
The Las Vegas franchise has been steadily introducing members of its front office, continues to push towards a name, logo and jersey design and is no doubt keeping its eye on players as they look to build for the 2017-18 campaign.
But one other important piece of business is in line to be taken care of by the time the calendar flips over to 2018, says senior vice president Murray Craven: the AHL affiliation for the NHL club.
According to SinBin’s Ken Boehlke, Craven said the expectation is the team will know where it will be placing it’s AHL affiliate — a team it appears Bill Foley is planning to own in addition to the NHL club — by December 2016.
“We’ll know by Christmas where we are going to be,” Craven told Boehlke. “It’s a process, it’s a little bit tricky. The AHL is such a good league now, probably the second best league in the world. It’s such a big part of what teams are now.”
There has been discussions surrounding whether the yet-to-be-named Las Vegas franchise would share an affiliation with another NHL club or have an affiliate to itself. However, AHL president Dave Andrews told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Carp in June that the AHL would “adjust accordingly” to match NHL expansion, which sounds an awful lot like we can expect a 31st AHL franchise in the near future.
The potential locations that Foley was looking at for the AHL expansion franchise, according to Carp, were Salt Lake City, Fresno and Reno, all of which would likely mean the club would be added to the AHL’s one-year-old Pacific Division. The practice of putting the AHL affiliate closer to the NHL team has grown over the past several seasons, and Foley said convenience was a consideration. Andrews agreed.
“It makes sense geographically for a team in Las Vegas to have its affiliate on the West Coast,” Andrews told Carp. “We would have to approve any move, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”
One other option, Foley said, would be putting the team in Las Vegas. However, Craven told Boehlke that Las Vegas has since been ruled out, which is wise because the franchise is yet to even truly understand what the market is like for an NHL team is like in the city. It’s no doubt best to wait and see how things play out before bringing two teams to Las Vegas virtually overnight.
As for an ECHL club, Craven said Las Vegas may have to wait some time before finding a second-tier affiliate. For the time being, the plan would be to share an ECHL affiliation with another NHL team.
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