ALLEN, TX, October 1, 2021 — The Allen AMERICANS Professional Hockey Club announced a new affiliation agreement on Friday, becoming the first ever ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.
“The ECHL plays such a key role in the development of NHL players,” said Ron Francis, Kraken GM. “This is a very important decision for the long-term success of our organization, and we’re excited to be engaged with a championship level organization in the Allen Americans.”
Under the affiliation agreement, the Americans will serve as a resource for the development efforts and personnel needs of the Kraken. The agreement allows Kraken prospects to be assigned to the Americans for developmental purposes throughout the season. Seattle’s temporary AHL affiliate is the Charlotte Checkers for this season, which is also affiliated with the Florida Panthers.
Francis and Kraken Assistant General Manager, Ricky Olczyk, talked with several AHL & ECHL organizations about a player-share arrangement for the upcoming 2021-22 season when construction issues prompted Oak View Group and the Kraken to adjust, with a revised Coachella Valley location and timeline, for a brand-new, state-of-the-art arena in Palm Desert.
The Kraken were previously awarded the AHL’s 32nd franchise. The Palm Springs AHL franchise (team name to be announced) will begin its inaugural season at the Coachella Valley arena in the fall of 2022. Construction for the privately funded project broke ground in early June and will be ready on time for hockey, concerts, family entertainment, other sports and more.
Securing an affiliation for the upcoming season was essential. The Kraken have 35+ players headed to their training camp, but only 20 players (18 skaters and two goalies) dress for games, while up to three more players on the active roster are designated “scratches” game by game.
Doing the NHL math, that means some players from the original group of 30 will skate for the AHL affiliate if they are still under contract with the Kraken, along with other free agents the Kraken might sign to AHL deals, ECHL deals or, in some cases, two-way agreements that pay one salary for AHL/ECHL and a higher amount for NHL.
In fact, 10 players drafted by Vegas in 2017 never played an NHL game for the Golden Knights. Another five played 60 NHL games or less.
Yet, the active 23-man roster this coming season will need reinforcements, with Francis and the Kraken Hockey Operations Group recalling players from AHL Charlotte or ECHL Allen due to injury, illness, suspension, trades, potential shake ups in the lineup, and sometimes as a reward for Checkers & Americans players developing at a faster pace than anticipated.
“The AHL is such a vital component to building our team and having success on the ice,” said Olczyk. “It’s our foundation, our bloodline. Likewise, the ECHL is a league where our prospects can get critical time on the ice while being coached by a guy like Steve Martinson, who knows what it takes to make it to the NHL.”
Olczyk said “We will have lots of eyeballs on Kraken prospects at all games, along with training camps and workouts.” Francis added, “We are obviously familiar with [Head Coach & General Manager] Steve Martinson and the
Allen Americans, as well as the DFW area.” This agreement helps ensure we can establish a connection to an ECHL Team based closer to our home base in Seattle, which will be mission essential not only this year, but also in future seasons when our AHL team in Palm Springs is up and running.”
“I’m very excited about working with Seattle and being part of their player development,” said Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson. “They are a new organization, but have a ton of experienced management. I think we’ll see some really good players from them this season.”
“Allen President & Governor Mike Waddell initiated the discussions with Seattle starting in March,” Olczyk said. “He was integral to striking the agreement, along with the rest of the Americans Executive Team.”
“The Americans Hockey Club is thrilled to have the opportunity to affiliate with the Seattle Kraken, and they are well respected,” said Allen Americans President & Governor Mike Waddell. “Ron, Ricky and the Seattle Leadership Group have a proven track record over their hockey careers in developing players, and winning hockey games. The energy around the Kraken being released into the NHL is palpable and we look forward to being a part of their inaugural season and well into the future.”
The ECHL is “arguably the best AA hockey league in the world, and a critical step in
Kraken prospects, along with working and training daily to get better as players.”