The Walleye and Wings are sticking together for a little while longer.
On Monday, the Detroit Red Wings and Toledo Walleye agreed to extending their affiliation. The agreement started in the 2009-10 season and will now run through the 2017-18 season. The news may not seem like much of anything but for the Wings, it is different. They are one of the few NHL clubs that utilize their ECHL club as often as they do. Could we see more of the same in the future?
The affiliation continues the stranglehold that the Wings have over northwest Ohio as the Blue Jackets and Penguins try to carve out their own spots in Ohio. Many people in Toledo already view themselves as Red Wings fans already so the continuation of this agreement makes a lot of sense.
The Wings have sent down multiple players to the ECHL to find their game and come back to contribute with the AHL and NHL clubs. Most notably Luke Glendening and Petr Mrazek have seen time with the Walleye, which proved to be valuable as they went on to join the Wings a short time after.
“The Wings have been great to work with, the Walleye and Wings go hand in hand. It’s been a great pipeline for the Wings to have their top two affiliated teams [nearby]. Anytime that they are in a pinch, they can pluck a guy and bring him up.”
“If you walk around the Huntington Center and you see an NHL jersey, eight to nine times out of 10 it’s a Red Wings jersey, the fan base here can keep an eye on the guys when they leave and wish them the best as they progress [in the Red Wings’ system].”
While I have noted that the prospect depth hasn’t been up to par, the Walleye have continually helped the Red Wings to develop some of their talent. If they get anything similar moving forward, they have a huge advantage compared to the rest of the league. Who knew a strong ECHL team is an invaluable resource to have?