After a meeting of the AHL’s Return to Play Committee, which included Kyle Dubas, their Board of Governors met today and voted on a framework to start play a few weeks after the NHL.

There is very little time here to finalize a schedule, and some US rinks will have other tenants they will need to work around. Some AHL teams also play in the same rink as their NHL affiliate. Expect things to shake out fairly quickly.

Patrick Williams has a whole thread of information on the AHL and the status of their return.

Some things I think we will see very soon:

  • Teams will have a deadline to opt out of the season, in the same way the ECHL did it.
  • Some teams not directly owned by NHL affiliates will opt out.
  • NHL teams will need to find places to loan their players once the AHL season begins, so as Williams lays out in his thread, we may see temporary dual affiliations or loans to someone else’s team.
  • The Canadian teams: Toronto Marlies, Laval Rocket, Belleville Senators, and Manitoba Moose will likely form their own division.
  • There is no expectation that the three AHL affiliates of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary will relocate, so those teams will need to carefully fill their Taxi Squads and allow for delays in calling up players.
  • All AHL divisions will be realigned to some degree.
  • The AHL season is likely going to end about the same time as the NHL season./

One interesting question that is unanswered is the status of players on CHL teams that aren’t playing. As of now, none of the three leagues have announced they won’t play, and the QMJHL seems to be planning a resumption of play. But rumours persist that the OHL and WHL will cancel their seasons. If that happens, the assumption seems to be the transfer agreement will be amended to allow players onto AHL teams. Whether that assumption is really warranted is yet to be seen.

This is also going to come down to timing. If the OHL doesn’t want to pull the plug until they see how the current Ontario lockdown goes, this might not be resolved before AHL teams need to sign players to make full rosters.

Signing of players might not commence immediately if the opportunity exists to take loans to fill holes on rosters, teams will likely do it. Loans are not new. Both NHL- and AHL-contracted players have been loaned to and played on other AHL teams.

As an example: If the Edmonton Oilers loan their NHL-contracted forward Seth Griffith to the Toronto Marlies, he can’t be called up to the Leafs, but he could be called up to the Oilers.

One thing that is known from the NHL 2021 season protocols: the AHL and their Players Association agreed to prorate salaries for everyone playing in the AHL, and that includes players on NHL contracts, who are prorated to 116 days, the length of the NHL season.

Once we have clarity on the schedule, we’ll let you know.

The owner of the Syracuse Crunch, Howard Dolgon, held a media call where the following was revealed:

  • January 4 is the opt out date for teams
  • some teams (like Syracuse) will play the minimum allowed due to cost
  • He does not anticipate ever having ticket sales in his arena this season/

Williams reports he’s been told 24 games is the minimum.