In a press release, Thunder President Dan Chapman stated, “Continuing our affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers has been a high priority for our organization this off-season and we’re very much looking forward to working with them during the 2012-13 season. This will mark the seventh consecutive year we’ve partnered with the Oilers and our objectives to develop players and provide a winning and competitive team on the ice remain consistent with one another.”
“We are really excited to extend our agreement with the Oilers,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “They are quickly becoming one of the most exciting franchises in the NHL. Their commitment to development is evident through the many Thunder players that have gone on to play with the Oilers and Oklahoma City Barons.”
Many fans of the Stockton Thunder wondered immediately on social media what this exclusive agreement would mean to the Thunder’s dual affiliation with the San Jose Sharks. Stockton had a dual affiliation with the Sharks and Oilers since midway through the 2009-10 season. However earlier today, the San Francisco Bulls, one of the newest teams to the ECHL, announced their own exclusive agreement with the Sharks organization.
“We’ve had a great relationship with both the Oilers and the Sharks organizations”, said Thomas. “In terms of geography it makes sense for the Sharks.”
Thomas also pointed out that as the ECHL adds more teams, 23 for the upcoming 2012-13 season, the need for developmental teams to have multiple NHL team affiliates is not necessary. An exclusive agreement makes sense for everyone involved in this situation.
Thomas spoke briefly about last year’s team make-up, which included a goaltender from both affiliated teams. One of the primary objectives of our affiliate agreement is to develop young players and get them ready for the next level, especially goaltenders. It was a bit of a challenge ensuring both goaltenders Olivier Roy (Oilers Prospect) and Thomas Heemskerk (Sharks Prospect) had sufficient time in the net during the season.
Since the Thunder has joined forces with the Oilers seven years ago, eight of Stockton’s former players have debuted in the NHL.
With the affiliation agreement secured Thomas continues to seek out players to fill the roster , before the season opener on October 12. And what could add more interest, is if Roy and Heemskerk get to suit up in opposing nets for the pre-season warm-up against the Bulls at Cow Palace on October 3, 2012. We will just have to wait and see.
Contact the writer at Shellie.Lima@prohockeynews.com
Contact the photographer at Jack.Lima@prohockeynews.com