The Blues are splitting their prospects and AHLers this season between the Chicago Wolves (still) and the San Antonio Rampage, as the AHL hasn’t added a team to even out the affiliations with the NHL. The relationship that the Blues had with the Wolves up through last season was tenuous at best, as Chicago operated as an independent franchise under no obligation to feature the Blues’ prospects.
A couple of months ago, the agreement was rumored to be a go; apparently paperwork takes a while.
I mean, this is a team who has had Brett Sterling on their roster six times. They’re going to do what they want.
Today the Blues announced an AHL affiliation agreement with the San Antonio Rampage. This deal begins with the 2018-2019 NHL season. From the official press release:
(Oct. 10, 2017) – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the Blues have signed a five-year affiliation agreement with the American Hockey League's (AHL) San Antonio Rampage. The Blues are sharing select players with San Antonio this season, including forwards Sammy Blais, Klim Kostin, and Adam Musil, defensemen Chris Butler and Jordan Schmaltz, and goaltender Ville Husso. The official affiliation agreement between the Blues and Rampage will begin with the 2018-19 season.
"We are excited to partner with San Antonio for the next five seasons," said Armstrong. "With this agreement, the Blues will control all of the hockey operations for the Rampage, enabling us to develop our prospects with the same philosophies we use at the NHL level."
This is a clear rebuke to the management of the Blues’ prospects under the Chicago Wolves (a management philosophy I warned of several years ago). The Blues should now be able to get their farm club and their NHL club on the same page and under the same systems. With a talented prospect crop, there’s no excuse for the Blues to let them languish on a team with no incentive to either play them or get them acclimated to the NHL.