The St. Louis Blues have signed a new agreement with an AHL affiliate to replace the Chicago Wolves. Their newest grooming ground for the prospects and minor leaguers will be the San Antonio Rampage, who are currently the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. The AHL will expand to 31 teams to match the NHL, and it is believed that the Avalanche will affiliate with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL.
The Rampage have a vacancy and the Blues can fill it. Are they as close as the Chicago Wolves were? No. Will the Blues have far more control over hockey ops with the Rampage than they did with the Wolves? Absolutely so, which ensures the proper growth and development of Blues prospects, who no longer have to worry about being a secondary concern.
Expansion efforts closer to St. Louis didn’t pan out. Kansas City and Indianapolis are both appealing locations for an AHL team, but the Blues are making due with what exists. And what exists is a lot of room for improvement. The Rampage aren’t noted for a tradition of constant success - they’ve made the playoff four times since their establishment in 2002 - but this allows the Blues an opportunity to take a franchise, establish their philosophy and style of play, and have it carry over to the NHL club.
Continuity of philosophy is something that the Blues were missing with the Wolves as their AHL affiliate. With the Rampage, the team should be able to re-establish it.