The Sharks announced last week they will be joining forces and taking on the San Francisco Bulls as their new ECHL affiliate. The Bulls are new to the Bay Area, with their first season beginning in October, and will play their games at the Cow Palace, the same arena the Sharks played at for their first two seasons back in 1991-1993.
The Sharks will maintain their connection with their AHL team, the Worcester Sharks, based in Worcester, Mass. Having a minor league affiliate much closer will be beneficial if the Sharks need an emergency call-up and can’t get a guy to the Bay Area in time from the East Coast.
The ECHL is considered a developmental league, while the AHL is where top prospects hone their skills before coming to the NHL. But the ECHL is a good place for young goal tenders, even top prospects, to get their bearings playing on a regular schedule, and a goalie-heavy team like the Sharks can benefit from having multiple goalies getting consistent action and are ready at a moment’s notice.
The Sharks and Edmonton Oilers have shared the Stockton Thunder (located in Stockton, Calif.) as an ECHL affiliate for the past two seasons. The Sharks having their own developmental team can only be good news, as they’ll have a bigger pool of talent to work with, and more goalies ready to deal with playing in the NHL .