The AHL will have a season, but it won’t be with 31 teams. The Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals, and Springfield Thunderbirds have all elected to opt out of the 2020-21 season. All three will return for 2021-22. After a board of governors call today, the league has announced realignment for the upcoming season that will see 28 teams operate in five divisions. Those divisions will be as follows:
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Hartford Wolf Pack
Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Grand Rapids Griffins
Henderson Silver Knights
San Diego Gulls
San Jose Barracuda
Several teams have also secured provisional relocations. The Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, New Jersey; the Ontario Reign will play in El Segundo, California; the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, Massachusetts; and the San Diego Gulls will play in Irvine, California.
The league will play a schedule with variable lengths for each division but will have a minimum of 24 games. The league is hoping to start on February 5, though an official schedule has not been announced yet.
The question now becomes what will happen to minor league players for the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues, NHL affiliates of Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Springfield respectively. Patrick Williams of NHL.com reports that St. Louis will be sending players to Utica; no word yet on the other two franchises.