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Seattle’s NHL franchise needs a top minor-league affiliate. And they’re going to own that team, too

Tri-City Americans Connor Bouchard (19) left, attempts to steal the puck from Joel Lakusta (4) of Prince George during a hockey game on Saturday at Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Tri-City Americans Connor Bouchard (19) left, attempts to steal the puck from Joel Lakusta (4) of Prince George during a hockey game on Saturday at Toyota Center in Kennewick. Tri-City Herald

The NHL is coming to Seattle, just in case you hadn’t heard anything about that over the last few months. That also means the expansion hockey franchise is going to need a minor-league team, which we had not heard much about until Monday.

The American Hockey League’s president and CEO David Andrews gave his state of the league address before Monday’s All-Star Classic in Springfield, Mass., and during it, he addressed a potential AHL team for Seattle.

This nugget of news comes from Tony Androckitis, who covers the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers minor league club)

There are 31 AHL teams; one for each NHL team. So expansion is coming. But where?

Twenty-five of the NHL’s 31 teams have separate ownership so if Seattle ownership group were to own both, they would be joining a small but substantial club that includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.

Keeping the AHL franchise on the West Coast makes sense. American Hockey League does have teams in western markets, five in California and one in Nevada. (Note: The AHL is basically the Triple-A of hockey leagues).

The Western Hockey League has their U.S.-based teams in the Pacific Northwest with four teams in the state of Washington (Everett, Seattle, Tri-Cities and Spokane). But those junior hockey teams in the WHL are stocked with high school-aged players, not the players needed for the NHL.

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