Given the ongoing border restrictions related to the Coronavirus pandemic, there was always a sense that Canadian NHL clubs maintaining their American AHL affiliates could pose problems this season. The Vancouver Canucks however have found a work-around. The team has announced that they have reached a loan agreement with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose that will allow them to assign players to the Winnipeg Jets’ affiliate this season. The Canucks will also continue to maintain their relationship with their own AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, who are also receiving players from the St. Louis Blues this year.
By striking a deal with the Moose, the Canucks have essentially added yet another level of recall ease this season. Beyond their active roster, the Canucks already have their six-man taxi squad who can be recalled immediately. They now have a second layer of players who will be assigned to Manitoba and will require just a seven-day quarantine before joining the NHL club. This initial group will include Tyler Graovac, Ashton Sautner, and Arturs Silovs, per the team release. Finally, they will have a younger, developmental group remaining in Utica who, if absolutely necessary, can be recalled but will require a fourteen-day quarantine period in accordance with federal regulations.
Now that this relationship is in place between Vancouver and Manitoba, the next question becomes whether the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers will also explore a similar arrangement. While four of the seven Canadian teams have AHL affiliates within their own national borders and the Canucks are now linked with one of those clubs, the Flames and Oilers still have American affiliates and face the same inconvenient federal quarantine policy should they need to make a recall beyond their taxi squad. Manitoba, the farthest west of the four Canadian AHL teams, would also be the most reasonable for the Alberta clubs, but should the Jets nix the idea of yet another rival stealing play time from their prospects, there are affiliates in Binghamton, Laval, and Toronto that could serve the same purpose.