The Minnesota Wild have announced a multi-year affiliation agreement with the new Iowa Heartlanders ECHL franchise. The minor league team is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season and will now have the support of an NHL organization. Wild GM Bill Guerin released a short statement on the agreement:
We are thrilled to announce a new ECHL affiliation agreement with the Iowa Heartlanders. We look forward to being a part of the Heartlanders inaugural season and helping grow the great sport of hockey while also having the opportunity to develop players at both the AHL and ECHL level in Iowa. This is an exciting day for our organization.
Minnesota is already affiliated with the Iowa Wild of the AHL, meaning both of their development tiers are now located relatively close to home. More and more, NHL organizations are using the ECHL to develop young, raw talents that need more seasoning before joining the AHL. For goaltenders especially, the ECHL can be the perfect place to get professional games under your belt instead of just trying to improve during practice. Minnesota goaltender Cam Talbot for instance spent a few games with the Greeneville Road Warriors early in his career.
- The Chicago Blackhawks could be taking a big swing this offseason, as Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic report that the team will explore adding either Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones. Obviously, it’s not up to just the Blackhawks if either of those players is to end up in Chicago, but the fact that they’re looking at such a big move does give some insight into where the organization wants to go in the near future. Jones, who leads the hot stove almost every night after telling the Blue Jackets he wouldn’t re-sign right now, would cost the Blackhawks a large package in trade; one source suggested to Powers and Lazerus that it would cost a first-round pick, second-round pick, and a high-end prospect to land the defenseman. Hamilton meanwhile is a pending free agent, but the Hurricanes have allowed him to speak to other teams already. Carolina GM Don Waddell mentioned earlier today that the team could pursue a trade ahead of free agency if Hamilton finds a fit, though it’s not clear what kind of return it would take to pull that off.
- As expected, Marcus Hogberg will return to Sweden next season, signing a four-year deal with Linkoping HC in the SHL. The deal has been rumored for several weeks, really ever since Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion announced that the team would not be issuing Hogberg a qualifying offer. Though he did play in 14 games for Ottawa this season, the Senators have a huge number of goaltenders in the system that can more than replicate his .876 save percentage.