The reason behind the re-alignment is the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights entered the NHL as an expansion team for the 2017-18 season, bumping the league up to 31 active teams.
The AHL on the other hand, operated with 30 teams over the course of the past season, thus leaving one NHL club without an AHL affiliate. Vegas agreed to an affiliation with the Chicago Wolves on a multi-year agreement, bumping Chicago’s former partner, the St. Louis Blues from the picture.
St. Louis operated without an affiliate team in 2017-18, often sending their players back and forth to other AHL teams able to take on rostered members (as was the case with Tanner Kaspick joining the Manitoba Moose for the Calder Cup Playoffs).
The AHL Board of Governors voted to expand to 31 teams – matching the NHL with the inclusion of the Colorado Eagles for the 2018-19 season. The Eagles formerly belonged to the East Coast Hockey League, and will serve as the primary affiliate to the Colorado Avalanche going forward.
St. Louis has since affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage – Colorado’s former AHL partner. Vegas remains tied to the Chicago Wolves in their affiliate agreement.
In doing so, some divisional changes had to be made. The Eagles will belong to the Pacific Division, while San Antonio and Texas have moved from that Pacific Division to the Central Division. Cleveland has left the Central Division and will belong to the North Division for the 2018-19 season.
By Carter Brooks
Graphic provided by the AHL