The Ottawa Senators have added another layer to their pipeline, announcing today that they have agreed to a one-year affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. As with all NHL-ECHL relationships, the Ottawa Senators and AHL’s Belleville Senators will be able to assign players to Brampton in 2018-19. The Beast were most recently affiliated with the rival Montreal Canadiens and their AHL team, the Laval Rocket. However, Montreal will not have a specific affiliate this season, opting instead to send some players to Brampton and others to nearby clubs like the Maine Mariners.
Brampton is a logical fit for the Senators, located in Ontario not far from Toronto, a quick flight or manageable drive from Ottawa or Belleville. The Senators were formerly affiliated with the Wichita Thunder, but gave up that exclusive relationship prior to last season. Ottawa used Wichita sparingly, as well as Brampton, last year despite a lack of a formal relationship, and the Thunder took on a new parent club in the Edmonton Oilers. Now, the Senators are back in the ECHL officially and may use Brampton more frequently due to its proximity.
With this agreement in place, the number of unaffiliated NHL and ECHL clubs drops again. There has been much movement in the ECHL this off-season, but with the Vegas Golden Knights and Fort Wayne Komets linking up, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Orlando Solar Bears making a reasonable match, and the Atlanta Gladiators adding the Nashville Predators on alongside the Boston Bruins, very few teams have yet to be paired up with the season about to begin. Currently, the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and San Jose Sharks are without an ECHL affiliate, while the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Rapid City Rush are without parent clubs. The Panthers and South Carolina-based Swamp Rabbits would seem to be an easy match, but only time will tell if and when any further relationships are formed this season.