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Avs AHL Affiliation Up in the Air

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This year has seen a huge amount of movement in the location of AHL teams but nothing as far as new affiliations for next season. That changed yesterday when the Florida Panthers announced a 4-year deal with the Portland Pirates which has them moving on from the San Antonio Rampage.

This is the first concrete news we've had but there are many rumors out there on some other changes for next year. Aaron Portzline, beat writer for the Columbus Blue Jackets put this forth on Tuesday:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Lots of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AHL?src=hash">#AHL</a> chatter swirling about, including talk that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CBJ?src=hash">#CBJ</a> could - finally - end up with their top affiliate in Cleveland. However ...</p>&mdash; Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) <a href="https://twitter.com/Aportzline/status/577595607805755392">March 16, 2015</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>... nothing official, and much to get through for it to happen. Chief among issues: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CBJ?src=hash">#CBJ</a> deal with <a href="https://twitter.com/TheFalconsAHL">@TheFalconsAHL</a> runs through next season.</p>&mdash; Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) <a href="https://twitter.com/Aportzline/status/577596017673166849">March 16, 2015</a></blockquote>
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With the move towards affiliating with geographically logical teams, the Jackets/Monsters pairing makes tons of sense and has been hinted at for years. We know that both the Columbus/Springfield and Colorado/Lake Erie deals run through next season but there are always out clauses and rumors that this move might come sooner rather than later are pervasive at this point.

Last night we had this tweet from Rochester Americans' announcer Rob Sanderson:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>It&#39;s a 4-way <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL?src=hash">#NHL</a>/<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AHL?src=hash">#AHL</a> affiliation swap, per my sources:&#10;FLA → Portland (announced 3/18)&#10;ARI → Springfield&#10;CBJ → Lake Erie&#10;COL → San Antonio</p>&mdash; Rob Sanderson (@RSandersonWHTK) <a href="https://twitter.com/RSandersonWHTK/status/578343235963084803">March 18, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Ok, the Florida thing is a done deal and the Columbus move should happen eventually but the Avs affiliating with San Antonio and Coyotes moving to Springfield make little sense. Our good friends at Litter Box Cats seemed to think that Arizona would move their affiliation back to San Antonio, where it has been in the past, with the Portland announcement.

Safe to say there's a lot more to come out of this story before it's all said and done.

The Avs affiliating with San Antonio doesn't accomplish anything really and if it does end up happening I can't see it as any more than a temporary move. San Antonio is marginally closer to Denver than Cleveland but I doubt travel time would decrease for callups significantly and none of the scouting/development staff would be closer for sure.

If there is a 4-way affiliation swap, Springfield would be the other option and in many ways is the better choice. There would be far less travel and hence more practice and development time. Bradley International Airport is a half hour away so it's pretty damn easy to get to for scouts and development staff.

We all get the feeling that the Avs end game is to purchase and relocate an AHL franchise, preferably to the Front Range, sometime in the future. At this point there is neither an obvious candidate for sale nor a obvious venue for the new team to play.  This will be a very expensive move for KSE and they are very good at dealing with situations like this but if there's one thing to count on, they will wait until the right moment comes rather than do something in haste.

Stay tuned...