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Amerks exploring affiliation options for ’11-’12

Rochester AmericansAs a three-year affiliation with the Florida Panthers (NHL) comes to an end after this season, the Rochester Americans (AHL) ownership is exploring other affiliation options — as well as the feasibility of going independent.

The issue in Rochester: the lack of veteran players to improve the team’s record and presence in the community. The Americans pay $850,000 or so for the privilege of receiving players from Florida; early in the affiliation the Panthers let the Amerks recruit for six roster spots, but that ended and today the Panthers totally control the roster. Florida isn’t keen on signing veterans solely for the purpose of pumping up the Americans, preferring to park prospects in the AHL.

The problem for the Americans: with almost every NHL team affiliated with an AHL team through 2012, it would be virtually impossible to find a new parent to supply a full roster. One option for the Amerks: finding a limited partner to send a small number of players, giving the Americans control over the rest of the roster. Another option is to go totally independent, but putting together a winning roster would be difficult, to say the least: that woul mean bringing in ECHL-level players to play in the AHL.

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