THE RUMOR MILL:
According to The Post-Standard in Syracuse, the city's AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch, will officially announce their new NHL affiliate tomorrow, and most are speculating that that team will be the Anaheim Ducks. The timing of the announcement, in particular, seems to point to the Ducks, who currently do not have an affiliate. If the Crunch were announcing an affiliation with a team currently tied to another AHL franchise, they would likely wait until the end of the season.
If true, the Ducks would have an AHL affiliate for the first time since breaking ties with the Iowa Chops last summer. The Iowa ownership had used the team as collateral in a loan, violating AHL rules, and were unable to fulfill their financial commitments to the Ducks in a timely manner.
Spending the year without an AHL team, Anaheim has farmed out experienced prospects to clubs like Manitoba, Toronto and San Antonio. However, some AHL clubs refused to play Anaheim's less experienced prospects, like Dan Sexton, who were forced to play for the Ducks' ECHL club in Bakersfield for a long stretch before a willing AHL placement could be found for them. The situation seemed to particularly affect Anaheim first-round picks Mark Mitera and Logan MacMillan. The former was unable to play a full and consistent season at the pro level after coming back from knee surgery, while the latter was picked up for drunk driving in Bakersfield after a disappointing year in the ECHL.
The Syracuse Crunch were previously associated with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Anaheim GM Bob Murray said in a Fan Forum teleconference three weeks ago that the team's Senior VP of Hockey Operations David McNab was getting on a plane that night to finalize an affiliate deal and that the AHL was helping the Ducks get their first choice.