The AHL announced Monday afternoon that they will have a season this year. What will the season look like for the AHL affiliate to the Sabres and the rest of the league?
The AHL announced on Monday that they will be able to have their season in 2021. The plan is to start the season on February 5th. It will include 28 teams, including the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. This is compared to the normal number of 31 teams in a normal season.
Three teams have decided to opt-out of the 2021 AHL season. The Charlotte Checkers (the Panthers’ affiliate), the Milwaukee Admirals (the Predators’ affiliate), and the Springfield Thunderbirds (the Blues’ affiliate) have all decided against playing this season.
Players that are part of teams that have opted out will be sprinkled around the league on teams that have the roster space for them. So we will likely see prospects from different NHL teams playing on the same AHL team this season.
Much like the NHL, the AHL has undergone a division realignment in 2021 to limit travel. Rochester is part of the new North Division in the AHL for this season. The North Division includes Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Wilkes-Barre Scranton.
The AHL has also allowed four teams to temporarily relocate for the 2021 season. One of these relocations will affect Rochester and the North Division, as the Binghamton Devils will be playing in Newark, New Jersey this season.
There will be five total divisions creating the AHL this season, including an all Canada division. The schedule format and playoff format for the AHL have yet to be determined.
It is great news that the AHL is going forward with their season this year. There are plenty of promising Sabres prospects that will greatly benefit from playing in the AHL this season.