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Golden Knights name Chicago Wolves as AHL affiliate

Vegas to enter NHL as League's 31st team next season

by Mike Cranston / Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights announced Tuesday that the Chicago Wolves will be their American Hockey League affiliate next season.

The expansion Golden Knights, who begin play next season, will replace the St. Louis Blues as the Wolves' NHL affiliate in 2017-18. The Wolves had been the affiliate of the Blues since the 2013-14 season.

"American Hockey League affiliates play a significant role in the success of all NHL clubs and are we are proud to have the Chicago Wolves as our first in team history," Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said.

Vegas sent its first signed player, forward Reid Duke, to Chicago after his junior season with Brandon of the Western Hockey League ended. He signed a professional tryout April 7 but didn't get into a game.

The Wolves finished first in the Central Division and lost to Grand Rapids in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

"If you look at George McPhee's history, he has always been a general manager who believes that winning is an important part of developing players," Wolves owner Don Levin said. "Professional playoffs are different than the regular season and he understands that and he wants his players to be ready to win."

Chicago had been the St. Louis Blues AHL affiliate, but that relationship will not continue. The Blues, however, will help stock the Wolves roster, although those players won't be allowed to play for the Golden Knights. St. Louis will not have their own AHL affiliate this season, and will assign its prospects to various organizations.

"Part of my comfort level is my relationship with (Vegas GM) George McPhee," St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong said Tuesday. "He and I have talked extensively on the benefits of this relationship… I think it's a really competitive advantage for Vegas and us to join forces. We can input some of our better prospects into their environment."

The next step in Vegas building its roster will be at the NHL Expansion Draft. The other 30 NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET on June 17. The list of players protected and made available by each NHL team will be released publicly June 18.

Vegas will submit its selections by 5 p.m. ET on June 20, and the announcement of the selections will be made June 21.

The Golden Knights will have the sixth pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago.

The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, held April 29 in Toronto, determined the order of selection for the first 15 picks in the draft. The Golden Knights will have the third pick in the second through seventh rounds.

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