The Chicago Blackhawks have announced a three-year extension with their ECHL affiliate the Indy Fuel. The agreement will take them through the 2021-22 season and means the Fuel will remain affiliated with the only NHL team they’ve ever known. The Indianapolis franchise came into the ECHL in 2014, though haven’t yet found a ton of success. In their five-year run, the Fuel have only qualified for the Kelly Cup playoffs once and were swept out of the first round that season by the Toledo Walleye.
More and more around the league the ECHL is used as a development team crucial in the early years of raw or unexpected prospects. Notably it is a place where young goaltenders can sharpen their skills while playing a lot, something that Blackhawks netminder Collin Delia did as recently as 2017-18. Delia played ten games for the Fuel during that season and now looks like a potential starting option for the Blackhawks going forward. Justin Holl of the Toronto Maple Leafs is also an alumni of the Indy program, having started his professional career there by playing 66 games for the team in 2014-15.
- Speaking of the Maple Leafs, the team announced today that Auston Matthews has undergone a procedure to remove hardware from a 2014 surgery. Matthews broke his femur while playing in the USNTDP several years ago, and according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN the screws leftover from that procedure may have been causing back pain for the young star. This explains why Matthews will not be playing in the upcoming IIHF World Championship, though it is not expected to affect his offseason training schedule.
- The Carolina Hurricanes have recalled Jake Bean from the AHL once again, though with the Charlotte Checkers starting their second round playoff series tomorrow evening he may not be on the roster very long. Bean has been up and down in the playoffs to give the Hurricanes some additional defensive depth as they deal with injuries to Calvin de Haan and Trevor van Riemsdyk, but he has yet to suit up. The 20-year old was named to the AHL All-Rookie team this season and made his NHL debut by suiting up twice for the Hurricanes earlier in the year.