Oilers announce Minor League affiliates
Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager Scott Howson announced today affiliation agreements with five American Hockey League teams and the Stockton (California) Thunder of the ECHL.
The Oilers will continue their affiliations with both the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Iowa Stars, while also having one-year player loan agreements with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Grand Rapid Griffins and the Milwaukee Admirals.
Howson stated that the Oilers "are pleased to be able to accomplish affiliations with these quality AHL organizations and look forward to activating our own AHL franchise for the 2007-08 season."
Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, advanced to the 2006 Calder Cup Final before falling in six games to the Hershey Bears, while Grand Rapids, the primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, were eliminated in the Western Conference final by the Admirals. The Oilers have worked with Grand Rapids in the past, having assigned Nate DiCasmirro to the Griffins in 2005-06.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is the primary affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This will be the 25th season in which the Oilers have been associated with the AHL. Edmontons first AHL affiliate was the Moncton Alpines in 1982-83. The AHL, entering its 71st season of operation in 2006-07, has 27 franchises and serves as the top development league for all 30 NHL teams.
The Oilers have reached a one-year affiliation agreement with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. The Thunder will serve as the AA minor-league affiliate of the Oilers, replacing the Greenville Grrrowl, who ceased operations following the 2005-06 season.
"We are pleased that the Stockton Thunder have joined the Oilers organization as our ECHL affiliate," stated Howson. "The Oilers are excited to be partnering with a franchise that has strong ownership and is well supported by its fans. We are confident that head coach Chris Cichocki and his staff will develop our young players in the early stages of their professional hockey careers."
The Thunder are owned by Michael Reinsdorf and play in the 10,000 seat Stockton Arena, which opened last season. Members of the Pacific Division of the ECHLs National Conference, the Thunder are led by President Dan Chapman and coached by Chris Cichocki.