In the words of Frodo Baggins, “we’re not alone”. The Minnesota Wild’s ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears, have added additional affiliates to fill out their roster. In addition to skaters from the Minnesota and Iowa Wild, the Solar Bears will be supplied with prospects from within the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization.
Here is what the Bears’ website had to say:
The Orlando Solar Bears announced today that they have added the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Toronto Marlies (AHL) as NHL and AHL affiliates. The Solar Bears will enter the 2013-14 season with dual affiliates. Toronto will join the Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild in supplying prospects to the Solar Bears roster.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Solar Bears,” said Leafs Vice President and Assistant General Manager Claude Loiselle. “As an organization, we are confident that our Toronto Maple Leafs prospects will accelerate their professional development in Orlando.”
“I am very excited for the opportunity to work with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies in developing their players and prospects in a great hockey environment here in Orlando,” said Head Coach Vince Williams.
Toronto’s roster last season featured four players that spent time in the ECHL. Starting goaltender James Reimer played for both the Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays in 2008-09, capturing the Kelly Cup with the Stingrays, and being named the ECHL Playoff MVP. Goaltender Ben Scrivens played in 13 games for the Royals in 2010-11 and was selected to play in the ECHL All-Star Game that season. Center David Steckel had nine points in nine games with the Royals in 2004-05, and goaltending prospect Jussi Rynnas played half of the 2011-12 season with Reading.
Five ECHL teams were affiliated with two NHL organizations last season. Those teams include the Cincinnati Cyclones (Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators), Evansville IceMen (Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues), Florida Everblades (Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning), Toledo Walleye (Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings), and Wheeling Nailers (Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins).