Nashville, Tenn. (May 29, 2019) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the team has entered an affiliation agreement with the ECHL's Florida Everblades. The Everblades will function as a developmental affiliate for Nashville and its primary developmental affiliate, the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.
Based in Estero, Fla., the Everblades are one of the most successful franchises in ECHL history, having qualified for the playoffs in all but one of their 21 seasons. Florida claimed the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions in 2012 and has reached the league's final on four separate occasions, the most recent coming in 2018.
"We are incredibly excited to have the Florida Everblades as a developmental affiliate," Poile said. "Led by President and GM Craig Brush, the Everblades have established themselves as one of the best franchises in the ECHL and have a proven track record of developing players. They've been a model of consistency in their league and we look forward to seeing them take an active role in the success of the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals."
In 2018-19, third-year Head Coach Brad Ralph led the Everblades to a 50-15-6-1 record and a trip to the Eastern Conference Final for the sixth time in team history. The year before, Florida established franchise records in wins (53) and points (112) en route to reaching the Kelly Cup Final against the Colorado Eagles before ultimately falling in a decisive Game 7. Ralph earned the John Brophy Award as the ECHL's coach of the year for his efforts, the third coach in Everblades history to win the award.
Founded in 1998 by Brush and partners Peter Karmanos and Thomas Thewes, the Everblades have called Hertz Arena home since their inaugural season and routinely rank among the ECHL's best in attendance, leading the league five times. Hertz Arena has hosted Nashville rookies on several occasions at the NHL Prospects Showcase, and the Predators held their main training camp at the venue in 2013.
Brush, who served as Chairman of the ECHL Board of Governors from 2003-06, has been at the helm of the Everblades for their entire existence and has seen the club compile a .647 point percentage in the regular season, in addition to a 108-80 playoff record.
Among the Everblades alumni to move on to the NHL after playing for the team include Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling and former Nashville Predators players Matt Hendricks, Shane Hnidy and Jason Morgan.
The ECHL is the leading professional developmental league for the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. The league began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and now spans coast-to-coast, with 26 teams playing in 21 states and provinces. There have been more than 650 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including Nashville Predators forward Frederick Gaudreau.