Canucks revive ties with ECHL's Kalamazoo Wings

The Vancouver Canucks have not had a proper affiliation with an ECHL crew since 2021.

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The Canucks have a secondary affiliate once more and it’s a well-recognized identify: the Kalamazoo Wings.

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The crew introduced Monday that it has signed a one-year cope with the Michigan-based ECHL crew, which means gamers not getting taking part in time with AHL Abbotsford can now be assigned to the second-tier minor league.

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The Canucks and Wings have been tied collectively for greater than a decade, each formally and informally.

From 2011 to 2015 and once more from 2017 to 2021, the 2 golf equipment had a proper improvement settlement. Since 2021, a casual deal had been in place and a handful of Canucks prospects frolicked there.

Since first partnering in 2011, in any given season, two or three Canucks prospects would spend a while in Kalamazoo.

A trio of Canucks-connected gamers suited up for the Wings final yr: Carson Focht, who was on an NHL cope with Vancouver, in addition to Chad Nychuk and Marc Gatcomb, who each had AHL offers with Abbotsford.

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Focht has left the Canucks’ group however each Nychuk and Gatcomb have signed new contracts throughout this low season.

And, with three goalies at present set for Abbotsford, there was a transparent have to have someplace for the group’s fifth goalie to play.

“The purpose for us is to attempt to develop gamers in any respect ranges and having a direct pipeline to the ECHL is extraordinarily vital,” Ryan Johnson, Abbotsford Canucks normal supervisor, stated in an announcement.

“From Day 1, we’ve got talked about how we wish to method the sport, our professionalism, our tradition and utilizing all out there assets. Teaming up with Joel Martin and his workers in Kalamazoo is one other key constructing block in our participant improvement course of and can solely assist make our group stronger.”

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Prospects who spend time within the ECHL not often find yourself within the NHL, however it’s additionally not exceptional. Alex Burrows labored his method within the NHL after beginning as an undrafted free agent within the ECHL. Arturs Silovs performed 10 video games for Trois-Rivières in 2021-22 and Spencer Martin has 24 ECHL video games on his stats sheet. Kyle Burroughs additionally performed 18 video games within the ECHL in his first skilled season.

Certainly, Silovs’ case stands out as the most instructive as to why it’s vital to have a proper settlement with an ECHL affiliate: That season, Kalamazoo didn’t have an area for a prospect goalie on the roster however late within the marketing campaign, the Canucks lucked into an area with Trois-Rivières and Silovs made 10 confidence-building begins.

This yr, with Silovs the possible No. 1 goaltender in Abbotsford, there could come time for certainly one of Nikita Tolopilo or Zach Sawchenko to be farmed out to Kalamazoo to get in some recreation time.

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