For the first time in Buffalo Sabres history, the team has an official ECHL affiliation. They announced yesterday their partnership with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL to begin this coming season, 2014-2015. It’s a three-way connection involving the Sabres, Jackals and the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
In the past, the Sabres have sent their ECHL prospects to a number of teams across the country. Signing an affiliation with Elmira will allow those prospects to be much closer to both Buffalo and Rochester. This proximity will aid in player development and will make it much easier to call-up players when necessary due to injury or other circumstances.
By car, Elmira is about a two and a half hour drive from Buffalo, 144 miles down I-86. It’s about two hours south of Rochester, or 121 miles between those cities, roughly — much closer than some of the cities that the Sabres sent their ECHLers to in the past few seasons.
This past season alone, Sabres prospects were assigned to ECHL teams in Greenville, Fort Wayne, Colorado, Idaho, Gwinnett, Alaska and Elmira.
Colin Jacobs was the lone Sabres prospect in Elmira this season; he had two goals and three assists in 20 games with the Jackals. Andrey Makarov and Shawn Szydlowski were both in Fort Wayne, while Jonathan Parker was in Colorado. Jerome Gauthier-Leduc spent time in Gwinett, while Connor Knapp played for Alaska. Johnny McGuire was also assigned to Idaho for some time.
Last season, the Sabres sent prospects to Greenville, Gwinnett and Bakersfield; not as many different teams, but still spaced apart pretty well. This new agreement will allow all of the ECHL prospects to be housed under one roof, much closer to both the AHL and NHL clubs, and will also make it easier for fans to go and support more of their minor-league prospects.
This past season, the Jackals had one-year deals with the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils and their respective AHL clubs in Binghamton and Albany. Those contracts, however, will not be renewed as the Jackals enter the new partnership with Buffalo.
The affiliation between the Sabres and Jackals is said to be a multi-year deal, though no other terms have been disclosed.
The Sabres are now one of 25 NHL teams with an affiliate in the ECHL. Below, you’ll find a list of the NHL teams and their respective affiliates, including several shared.
- Calgary (Alaska)
- Edmonton (Bakersfield)
- Florida and Nashville (both Cincinnati)
- Columbus (Evansville)
- Carolina and Tampa Bay (both Florida)
- New York Rangers (Greenville)
- Phoenix (Gwinnett)
- Dallas (Idaho)
- Vancouver and St. Louis (both Kalamazoo)
- Los Angeles and Winnipeg (both Ontario)
- Minnesota and Toronto (Orlando)
- Washington (Reading)
- Boston (South Carolina)
- New York Islanders (Stockton)
- Detroit and Chicago (Toledo)
- Anaheim (Utah)
- Montreal and Pittsburgh (Wheeling)