Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Had to Get Creative with Complicated Minor League Setup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Had to Get Creative with Complicated Minor League Setup

Article excerpt

(UPDATE: Goaltender Jordan Binnington has been loaned by the Blues to the Providence Bruins of the AHL according to the Providence Journal.)

As the Blues dig in on their 2017-18 regular season, many of the 51 players on hand for the start of training camp have since scattered all over North America.

Or in the case of defenseman Niko Mikkola, back to Finland playing for Tappara Tampere in the Finnish Elite League.

Among the rest who either didn't make the Blues' roster or currently are on injured reserve, seven are playing junior hockey in Canada and 15 were assigned to the American Hockey League.

In case you missed it, the Blues don't have an affiliate this year in the AHL the highest-level of minor-league hockey. So they're sharing their players with two organizations this season:

* The Vegas Golden Knights and their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.

* The Colorado Avalanche and their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.

"We're putting some players in Chicago and some players in San Antonio for one year," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "We believe we have an affiliation that we'll announce very soon for next year on a longer-term deal."

The Post-Dispatch reported in August that San Antonio would be the Blues' AHL affiliate, starting with the 2018-19 season, but there has been no formal announcement.

"Nothing's official, but things are looking towards that direction," Armstrong said.

As for this year, the Blues assigned six players to Chicago and nine to San Antonio, hardly an ideal situation when you're trying to put prospects in positions where they can develop and be most successful.

"We're fortunate to work with two organizations where we're comfortable," Armstrong said. "I know the (general) managers on both teams. And more importantly, Kevin McDonald, our assistant (general) manager that runs the minor league team, knows the guys running those teams in San Antonio and Chicago.

"So we tried to work with Vegas and Colorado on areas where they might not have as much depth. And if we had depth, we put it there. We're just trying to find a home that is good for both parties and all the players involved that they're gonna get the opportunity to play at a high level and get on the ice."

Forwards Beau Bennett, Conner Bleackley and MacKenzie MacEachern went to the Chicago Wolves, along with defensemen Petteri Lindbohm and Jake Walman, and goalie Jordan Binnington. Bennett has a goal and an assist in two games for the Wolves so far.

For Binnington, however, Chicago is a dead end because the Wolves already have two goalies from the Vegas Golden Knights organization in Oscar Dansk and Maxime Legace. Legace was in goal for Chicago's season opener Friday; Dansk was in the nets Saturday.

"They don't need an extra goalie so we're trying to find (Binnington) a home now," Armstrong said. "He's the one player that we're looking for a place to slot. …

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