Golden Knights Sign ECHL Affiliate

Holy cow, the NHL’s newest franchise is starting to look like a real hockey organization.

On Thursday the Vegas Golden Knights checked another important box on the road to becoming a grownup club, inking a deal with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.

This partnership completes the minor-league system for the Golden Knights. Last month Vegas signed a five-year contract with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. The agreement with Quad City is also a multi-year deal. Just like with Chicago, the Golden Knights will be permitted to transfer players between Vegas and the Quad Cities beginning with the 2017-18 season.

George McPhee Says All the Right Things

George McPhee, General Manager of Vegas Golden Knights

As far as public speaking goes, announcing the acquisition of an ECHL affiliate is probably pretty low stress for an NHL general manager. George McPhee said exactly what you’d expect him to say.

[miptheme_quote author=”” style=”text-center”]We believe that between the Mallards and our AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, our players will effectively develop in each of those systems. Quad City has a rich hockey history and we are pleased to have entered into an affiliation relationship with them in our first season. – George McPhee [/miptheme_quote]

Mallards president and general manager Bob McNamara did a good job as well.

[miptheme_quote author=”” style=”text-center”]We’re looking forward to welcoming players from our affiliation with the Golden Knights and the Wolves to the Mallards and our community. The opportunity to help those players improve, develop, grow and take steps toward playing in the AHL and eventually the NHL is always exciting. – Bob McNamara [/miptheme_quote]

Who Are the Quad City Mallards?

Vegas fans can be forgiven for not knowing much about the new ECHL affiliate of the Golden Knights. Just promise me you’ll do some research this offseason.

The Quad City Mallards are based in Moline, Illinois. They’ve had quite a journey since 1995. Quad City has played in multiple leagues and folded, only to return to the ice. Good attendance, bad attendance, a little bit of everything.

Photo by r.nial bradshaw/via Flickr

The Mallards, along with the other six surviving members of the Central Hockey League, joined the ECHL in its 2014 expansion. They’ve reached the Kelly Cup playoffs in every season since the move. This year they were bounced in the first-round by the Fort Wayne Komets in five games.

Thursday’s move marks the end of Quad City’s affiliation with Minnesota. The Mallards signed a deal with the Wild in August of 2013. All but three ECHL teams are affiliated with an NHL club. The Fort Wayne Komets, Kansas City Mavericks, and Jacksonville IceMen operate independently.

Quad City plays its games at the 9,200-seat iWireless Center.

Golden Knights Preparing for a Wild Few Weeks

In the month of June, we’re going to be introduced to plenty of new Golden Knights, Wolves, and Mallards. June 21 is the NHL Expansion Draft. Vegas will select a player from each of the other 30 NHL teams. Expect plenty of deals to be orchestrated between now and then, though.

Later that week we get the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago. The Golden Knights were awarded the sixth overall pick at the NHL Draft Lottery last month. In rounds two through seven, Vegas will make its selection from the No. 3 position.

Those players named later this month will join Reid Duke, Vadim Shipachyov, and Tomas Hyka in the Golden Knights organization. The Hyka signing was announced hours after Vegas had made official its agreement with Quad City.

After that, all the Knights have to do is play hockey. A seven-game preseason slate kicks off September 17 at Vancouver. The games that count will begin October 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The first opponent of the Golden Knights has not yet been announced.