Though it had been reported much earlier this summer, the San Antonio Rampage finally officially announced their new five-year partnership with the St. Louis Blues. The Blues are operating this season without a primary AHL affiliate, after the Chicago Wolves signed a new deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Colorado Avalanche, who are currently affiliated with the Rampage, will be partnered next season with the Colorado Eagles, the AHL’s 31st franchise.
For St. Louis, this season has already been a tough one to operate through as they split their prospects between several teams around the league. Jordan Binnington, for example, was originally assigned to the Chicago Wolves before a logjam of Vegas goaltenders forced them to find a him a new home. Binnington is now playing in Providence with the Bruins’ affiliate. They do have many players already in San Antonio, getting used to the city and facility. The team will gain control of hockey operations and the coaching staff next year, giving them an increased ability to develop their prospects.
San Antonio was one of the AHL’s worst teams last year, registering just a 27-42-7 record and missing the playoffs for the second straight season. In fact, the team has won just a single playoff series in their entire existence, something the Blues organization will look to change from day one. Already their prospects have made their presence felt, with Samuel Blais and Jordan Schmaltz scoring to lead them to a win in their opener. Schmaltz, a first-round pick of the Blues scored the winner and is expected to be a leader on the team’s blueline this season.
For Colorado, this is not a loss. While they’ve had a fine relationship with San Antonio since 2015 (the team previously had affiliations with Florida and Arizona), getting the Eagles franchise is a solid step forward. Their primary minor league affiliate will now be right next door—the Eagles currently play in Loveland, CO—giving them even better coaching, development and scouting opportunities. The Eagles were previously an ECHL franchise, who won the Kelly Cup as league champions last season.