The Minnesota Wild have extended their affiliation with the Allen Americans of the ECHL for the 2020-21 season. The two teams have been partnered since 2018-19, with the Americans serving as a proving ground for raw or unheralded prospects. Tom Kurvers, GM of the Iowa Wild, the AHL affiliate that will be part of the three-tiered system, had this to say about the new agreement:
We are excited to extend our ECHL affiliation agreement with the Allen Americans. Allen had a tremendous season last year and we look forward to the Americans serving as a development affiliate for our players again this season.
Allen is one of the 13 ECHL teams that is scheduled to begin their 72-game season in early December, playing their first game on December 12 against the Tulsa Oilers. The league is hoping to have a season despite the financial struggles that the COVID-19 situation has incurred on some of the organizations.
The ECHL is used to secure playing time for lottery-ticket prospects, especially goaltenders, but does regularly produce future NHL talent. The Americans specifically have had two such players grace their locker rooms. Jordie Benn, who currently plays for the Vancouver Canucks, spent an entire season with the Americans in 2009-10 when he was still trying to get noticed as an undrafted player.
Aaron Dell, who was recently signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, has a similar story. He spent his first year of professional hockey in Allen, though at that time they were part of the Central Hockey league. He would return to the Americans for 12 games in 2014-15 after they had joined the ECHL.