When news broke that three AHL teams would be pulling out of the 2020-21 season, it left a question of what the NHL affiliates would do with their minor league players and prospects. Today, news has come that the Florida Panthers, who are partnered normally with the opting-out Charlotte Checkers, will be sharing the Syracuse Crunch with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. As part of the agreement, the Panthers will have the ability to assign players directly to the Crunch, though the original coaching staff will stay in place.
Both NHL general managers—Julien BriseBois of the Lightning and Bill Zito of the Panthers—released statements explaining the move and the excitement it should generate for Crunch fans. This kind of collaborative program will only improve the roster for Syracuse, giving them an even better chance of competing this season.
Still, it is certainly not ideal for the Panthers. Though they have a place for their prospects and depth players to play, it’s still easy to see how the Crunch coaching staff could lean slightly towards the development of Lightning prospects over them. Either way, in this unusual and unique season, it’s nice to see two rivals come together on something.