ECHL: Who Should Be The Savannah Ghost Pirates Next NHL Affiliate?

The Savannah Ghost Pirates recently announced that they will announce their new AHL and NHL affiliate on Monday during a Press Conference at Enmarket Arena. They will end their affiliation with the Vegas Golden Knights despite still having two years left on the original multi-year deal that they signed in 2019 before the Ghost Pirates’ inaugural season. The news of Vegas and Savannah ultimately ending their agreement early almost guarantees that Vegas will name the Tahoe Knight Monsters as their ECHL affiliate in the near future, which, for Ghost Pirate Fans, raises the question of who will be their next AHL/NHL affiliate. Here are the options that are available for the Ghost Pirates:

Carolina Hurricanes:

There’s no question that this is a no-brainer geographically for both sides, as it would make things a lot easier for Savannah after sending their players out to the West Coast for anyone who would get sent down or called up from the Henderson Silver Knights. Last year, the Hurricanes didn’t have an AHL or ECHL affiliate, as the Chicago Wolves were an independent AHL team, and the Winnipeg Jets signed an agreement with the Norfolk Admirals. However, the Hurricanes did end up having a “working agreement” with Norfolk. There’s no doubt that after the past few seasons, the Ghost Pirates need to find a way to be relevant next season, and being affiliated with a team like Carolina would make perfect sense. Savannah could also solve their goaltending issue by acquiring a goalie like Yaniv Perets, who had a decent season last year with the Admirals, going 18-11-3 with a 2.99 GAA, .889SV%, and two shutouts while also making his NHL debut for the Hurricanes on January 15th vs Los Angeles Kings stopping the only shot he faced in 12:46 of action.

Toronto Maple Leafs

After losing their former ECHL affiliate Newfoundland Growlers after the team was forced to fold, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still looking for an ECHL affiliate, and it’s been shown over the years that the Maple Leafs have had no problem supplying prospects to their ECHL affiliate and it showed as when the Growlers were around they were a successful ECHL team year after year as they won the Kelly Cup in 2019 and lost in the conference finals in back 2022 and 2023 both time to the Florida Everblades who just made history by winning their third straight Kelly Cup Championship. An affiliation with Toronto brings immediate success to a struggling Savannah organization.

Florida Panthers

It seems rather odd that after winning three straight Kelly Cup Championships that, an ECHL affiliate would come out and announce that they aren’t renewing their extension with the Florida Panthers after being the team’s ECHL affiliate for the last two seasons; this comes just a day after Savannah announced that they were announcing their new affiliate on Monday. Adding a team that has been to the Stanley Cup Finals the last two years and an ECHL team that has won three straight Kelly Cup Championships just that alone makes a lot of sense, and then you add in the fact that it makes sense geographically. This has to be the go-to option for the Ghost Pirates.

Columbus Blue Jackets

There’s no doubt that the Blue Jackets are a team that is rebuilding and with rebuilding comes prospects and lots of them. Having a team within a reasonable distance and with lots of prospects available, there’s no question that the Blue Jackets would once again like to have an ECHL affiliate after the lost their old affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings, to the Vancouver Canucks after the 2021-22 season but have not had an ECHL team since. Adding a team like Savannah may not be as close as it previously was with Kalamazoo, but it would once again bring back the three-tier system of the organization.

St. Louis Blues

The St.Louis Blues are another team that has been without an ECHL Affiliate since 2020 after they lost the Tulsa Oilers to the Anaheim Ducks. Out of all the options that are available to Savannah, St. Louis seems the least likely, as they’ve been one of the few NHL teams that haven’t been at the top of the discussion for a possible ECHL affiliation in recent years despite some rumors about possibly being affiliated with the Bloomington Bison, however, the Bison would end signing a five-year deal with the New York Rangers to become their ECHL affiliate.

Utah Hockey Club

There’s no doubt that it was a rocky road for the Coyotes while they were in Arizona at the NHL and AHL level, but now the team has moved out to Utah, it is a brand new start for Utah, and there’s no better time to put their blueprint on an ECHL team than the present. Arizona, like Columbus, is another team that is currently rebuilding and will likely have a lot of choices to make in the coming years with the Tuscon Road Runners, who are currently their AHL affiliate. The question will now be what will happen to the Utah Grizzlies now that there is an NHL team in Utah competing with them. The Grizzlies have mentioned that they are staying put for right now, but there’s no guarantee of what will happen in the future.

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

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