The ECHL is slowly getting more of a reputation as a development league vital to NHL success. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins have put a lot of resources into creating a sort of “AA” squad, where players can work on specific skills before making the jump to the AHL. Next year, the league will make some changes to their alignment, while also introducing and saying goodbye to various clubs.
St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada will welcome minor league hockey back, as the ECHL will expand to the maritime city. The Maple Leafs are expected to change their affiliation from the Orlando Solar Bears to St. John’s, where they previously housed their AHL team for many years.
The Quad City Mallards, affiliated with the Vegas Golden Knights this season, have withdrawn their membership from the ECHL and will cease operations. The Mallards actually signed a multi-year partnership with Vegas, who will now be left to find another affiliate for next season.
Alignment will change with the team changes, and the league will be as follows in 2018-19:
St. John’s (TBA)
Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Orlando Solar Bears
South Carolina Stingrays
Fort Wayne Komets
Kansas City Mavericks
Rapid City Rush