It appears there are more changes coming for the 2015-16 American Hockey League season.
The Florida Panthers, who are currently affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage, are expected to partner with the Portland Pirates next season. The Pirates are currently affiliated with the Arizona Coyotes.
According to Texas Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro, San Antonio could be the new affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes beginning next season. The Rampage and Coyotes were affiliated from 2005 to 2011.
Fox Sports reported last month that the Coyotes would ultimately like to have their affiliate in Arizona, but that would require the team to purchase a franchise and relocate it.
The Portland Press Herald reports the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears are currently in negotiations and are expected to announce a new affiliation agreement as early as this week.
The Coyotes and Panthers’ affiliation swap is just the latest in what has been a busy few months for the American Hockey League.
Last week the Montreal Canadiens announced they would relocate from Hamilton to St. John’s next season with the Winnipeg Jets moving its AHL affiliate to Winnipeg.
In January the AHL announced a new Pacific Division for the 2015-16 season, which will feature five teams playing in California.
The Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks will all have their top development club playing in the new division.
Montreal Canadiens’ forward Torrey Mitchell is expected to miss two weeks with a right arm injury according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
Mitchell suffered the injury during the first period of Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.
The 30-year-old will miss his second game tonight when the Canadiens visit the Florida Panthers.
Since his trade from the Buffalo Sabres, Mitchell has a minus-2 rating and two penalty minutes while averaging 9:23 in ice time in six games.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Neuvirth faces ‘Hawks
The New York Islanders are looking to avoid their longest losing streak of the season tonight, but will have to do it without the services of their No. 1 netminder.
Jaroslav Halak will miss this evening’s tilt in Chicago with a lower-body injury, meaning Michal Neuvirth will try to keep the Isles’ skid from extending to four games.
Neuvirth, acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in exchange for Chad Johnson, has started three games for the Isles, going 1-1-1 with a .889 save percentage and 2.57 GAA. In his last outing, a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday, Neuvirth allowed just two goals on 29 shots and finished with a .931 save percentage, his best outing as an Islander to date.
For the ‘Blackhawks, Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.
Pens at Devils: Thomas Greiss (probable) vs. Cory Schneider
Sens at ‘Canes: Andrew Hammond vs. Anton Khudobin
Sabres at Bruins: (No Buffalo starter yet) vs. Niklas Svedberg
Habs at Panthers: Dustin Tokarski (probable) vs. Dan Ellis
Wild at Preds: Devan Dubnyk vs. Pekka Rinne (probable)
Sharks at Jets: Antti Niemi vs. Ondrej Pavelec
Blues at Flames: Brian Elliott vs. Jonas Hiller
Flyers at Canucks: No starters yet for either team.
The latest round of GM meetings kicked off on Monday, and while spicier topics such as 3-on-3 overtime will wait for a day or two, NHL.com reports that goalie interference and embellishment topics were at the forefront.
Specifically, general managers are trying to determine if goal reviews should expand to determine if goalie interference took place (right now that’s up to on-ice officials).
“These things seem anal until you get into Game 6 and 7 in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs; they’re not anal anymore, they’re important,” NHL exec Colin Campbell said. “It’s relevant that we take care of these things that might sound minor right now, but they’re major elements come the playoffs.”
As far as diving and embellishment goes, the league may provide a list of offenders, as has been done in the past (adding to the current movement to hand out fine for infractions).
Considering the chaos that fell at the Florida Panthers’ feet when Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured during the same game, emergency goalie standards were also discussed, according to NHL.com.
Check out video from the meetings below.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Ottawa sticks with Andrew Hammond
Ottawa is seven points back in the battle for a Wild Card spot with just 15 games remaining in its schedule. Under those desperate circumstances, the Senators are putting their fate in the hands of 27-year-old rookie Andrew Hammond. Given that Hammond hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his 11 appearances this season, it’s hard to fault Senators coach Dave Cameron for his desire to ride the hot hand.
The Senators will be challenged by the Philadelphia Flyers, which are coming off of a 7-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Steve Mason played in that contest, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see former Senators goalie Ray Emery start to provide Mason with a breather.
Panthers at Rangers: Dan Ellis will probably start for Florida while Cam Talbot has been confirmed for New York.
Canes at Blue Jackets: No word yet on Carolina, but there’s a good chance it will be Anton Khudobin after Cam Ward played Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod for Columbus.
Blues at Stars: Jake Allen will start for St. Louis. Nothing’s confirmed for Dallas, but it will likely be Kari Lehtonen.
Bruins at Capitals: Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t reveal Sunday’s starter, but Braden Holtby will probably play for Washington.
Preds at Ducks: Nothing’s confirmed, but it will likely be starters Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen between the pipes.