The dominant conversation in the summer for the Carolina Hurricanes has been drafting players and signing or re-signing free agents. One question has yet to be answered as we head towards mid-July.
The Canes are the only NHL team without an AHL-affiliated club. With prospect camp starting next week in Raleigh, it is important to know where some of these youngsters will be playing next season.
Since 2020 the Canes were in a contract with the Chicago Wolves and won the Calder Cup in the 2020-21 season.
Many prospects have made their way through the ranks and to the NHL level. Recently Jalen Chatfield, Stefan Noesen, and Pyotr Kochetkov played important roles for the Canes after being a part of the Calder Cup championship.
Some top prospects will skip the minor league level and head straight up to the big club, but any organization’s lifeline is the development of young prospects. It secures continued success and provides a General Manager the assets to acquire a top veteran player when needed.
Currently, Don Waddell and the Canes have a few options for the upcoming season but reuniting with Chicago seems to be out of the question. The Wolves will be the only independent team in the AHL and the last one doing so since 1995.
The Canes can have a joint ownership of an AHL team with another NHL team or they could loan out their prospects across the AHL.
Neither option is ideal and the proof is in that every other NHL team has an AHL affiliate and most have an ECHL affiliate as well. The Canes do still have the Norfolk Admirals this season in the AHL but the higher level prospects are at the AHL.
It is beneficial to have a culture set for your organization and have the prospects learn and grow together, which will not be the case if they are loaned out. It is also inconvenient for NHL call-ups if these players are all over the country.
It will effect a player like Kochetkov as he is certainly going to get time in the AHL due to the re-signing of Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen.
Don’t be surprised to see some of the Canes property back in Chicago as the Wolves will certainly be happy to recruit players of familiarity but this is truly not an ideal situation from an organizational stand point.