The Vegas Golden Knights could potentially buy and relocate an existing AHL team to the Las Vegas area, though whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen.
Currently, the Golden Knights have an affiliation agreement with the Chicago Wolves that runs through the 2021-22 season. The two teams are approximately 1,750 miles apart and the Wolves are independently owned, which is a contrast to the model that some NHL organizations have adopted of owning their AHL affiliates and locating them either in or close to the same market.
The Golden Knights could join the ranks of NHL teams that own their AHL affiliates, as AHL president and chief executive officer David Andrews confirmed during his state of the league address on Monday that the organization is interested in buying an AHL club with other owners. However, he stressed that nothing has been finalized, as did the Golden Knights in their own statement. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
David Andrews, president and chief executive officer of the AHL, said in his state of the league address at the AHL All-Star Game in Ontario, California, that the Knights have discussed buying a team with other owners, but no plan was in place.
“We have had discussions with American Hockey League representatives regarding the possibility of securing an AHL club on an ongoing basis since our team’s inception,” the Golden Knights said in a statement. “While we remain very interested in the opportunity, specific details related to an acquisition or the potential location of the acquired team are yet to be determined.”…
“I think that at some point there will be an (AHL) team in Vegas, or (the Golden Knights) will own a team,” Andrews told reporters in Ontario, California, and added that any move for next season, “would have to happen pretty soon.”
It remains to be seen what AHL franchise, if any, the Golden Knights would buy. The Wolves appear to be an unlikely candidate to be sold and relocated. The team has found a niche in the competitive Chicago sports market at Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont, and the organization is clearly distancing itself from sale and relocation rumors involving the Golden Knights.
“The Chicago Wolves and Vegas Golden Knights continue to be partners with a common goal to win championships,” Wolves general manager Wendell Young said in a statement published by media outlets, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If there comes a time when Vegas purchases the rights to another AHL franchise, then the Wolves will find a new NHL partner that also believes in the importance of competing for Calder Cups.”
As for arena plans, it is reportedly expected that the Golden Knights would place an AHL franchise at Orleans Arena–a former minor-league hockey venue that was once home to the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL). It is expected that this would be temporary, however, as the Golden Knights would look to build an AHL-sized venue elsewhere in the Las Vegas arena, perhaps in suburban Henderson. More from SinBin.vegas:
Per SinBin.vegas sources, Boyd Gaming and The Orleans Hotel and Casino are expecting the Golden Knights to purchase an AHL franchise and move them to Vegas to play at the Orleans Arena.
The current plan is expected to have the team play at Orleans Arena for two seasons before moving to a new rink built specifically for the AHL….
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Golden Knights and Wolves had agreed to a 5-year partnership. However, a SinBin.vegas source indicated that there is an “out-clause” for the Golden Knights after three seasons.
It remains to be seen whether the Golden Knights move forward with the potential purchase and subsequent relocation of an AHL team, and exactly how soon that would take place. Still, it is hard to deny that the Golden Knights and their home venue–T-Mobile Arena–have played a formidable role in helping to grow hockey in the Las Vegas area, and having an AHL affiliate play at a separate venue in the market could help expand what the organization has accomplished since its NHL expansion bid was approved in 2016.