The St. Louis Blues won’t have their own ECHL affiliate next year, but they’ve found a team close by to partner with.
The St. Louis Blues and Missouri Mavericks announced on Tuesday that they’ve agreed to a “working affiliation” for the 2016-17 season.
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The Mavericks are the official ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, but with this agreement they’re officially leaving the door open for the Blues to provide them with players if they don’t have room to carry all their prospects at the AHL level.
The Mavericks have existed for the past eight seasons and play in Independence, Missouri. With this affiliation, the Blues won’t have to desperately hunt for different ECHL clubs to accommodate their extra players. Though the Blues initially assigned all three of their ECHL players (Niklas Lundstrom and forwards Zach Pochiro and Ryan Tesink) to the same club, the Quad City Mallards, last season, they ultimately had to assign players to four different ECHL clubs during 2015-16. Tesink was eventually relocated to the Alaska Aces, Lundstrom was sent to the Elmira Jackals, and new acquisition Zack Phillips was eventually demoted from the AHL Chicago Wolves to the Kalamazoo Wings.
In recent years, the Blues have generally partnered with an ECHL team during years that they have a vested interest in developing a fifth goalie at the professional ranks. Finnish import Ville Husso, who will be playing his first season in North America in 2016-17, seems to be a likely candidate to play for the Mavericks this season, as there’s not an obvious spot for him in the AHL with Jordan Binnington and Pheonix Copley both set to play there.
The Blues have quite a few minor-leaguers under contract for 2016-17, so there may not be room for all the skaters to receive adequate time at the AHL level, and thus some Blues skaters will likely end up playing for the Mavericks as well. Forwards Samuel Blais, Conner Bleackley, Pochiro, and Justin Selman could be candidates to play for the Mavericks, as could defenseman Dmitrii Sergeev.