The pieces of the American League map for next season are beginning to fall in place, though where and how they will fall still remains to be seen.
After a long delay, the Portland Pirates finally firmed up plans for the future, announcing a two-year extension of their deal with the Cumberland County Civic Center. Portland will remain the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate. The Pirates had been heavily rumored to be on their way to Albany, N.Y.
Meanwhile, published reports out of Albany have the New Jersey Devils en route back to the New York state capital for next season. New Jersey currently houses its prospects with the Massachusetts-based Lowell Devils, currently the AHL's worst home draw.
The Devils had a long-standing affiliation with Albany that ended in 2006 after 13 seasons. According to the Albany Times Union, the Devils would return to Albany, starting next season. Among other issues, several losing seasons in the first half of the last decade helped to unravel what had been one of the AHL's best partnerships in the 1990s. Albany, however, offers the Devils geographical proximity.
Elsewhere in the Empire State, the Syracuse Post-Standard suggests the Columbus-Syracuse marriage likely heading for divorce, with the Blue Jackets thought to be heading into the arms of the Springfield Falcons. Anaheim currently is without its own AHL affiliate, but it is not a guarantee the Ducks would head to Syracuse.
Last month, Edmonton announced its prospects will play in Oklahoma City, Okla., next season while Carolina farmhands will play out of Charlotte, N.C.
EBERLE TO FALCONS
Stout prospect Jordan Eberle is the first major prospect from the Canadian League or NCAA ranks to head into the AHL this spring.
Springfield gained the services of Eberle this week after his Regina team failed to make the Western League post-season. The 19-year-old right winger, an Oilers 2008 first round (22nd overall) selection, rolled out a 50-56-106 line in his final WHL season with the Pats, good for second in the circuit in points and goals.
In winning a silver medal with Team Canada this past January at the World Junior Championship in his home province of Saskatchewan, Eberle also took over as Team Canada's all-time leading goal-scorer in junior play with 14. Last spring, Eberle had three goals and nine points with the Falcons in a late-season nine-game audition.
THIS AND THAT
Binghamton's Josh Hennessy earned weekly honors for his four-goal, nine-point effort over four games with the Senators last week, helping Don Nachbaur's club to three wins...
Clear Day rosters, the AHL version of playoff rosters, feature 62 players with a Calder Cup championship to their name, 23 of those coming from Hershey's 2009 Calder Cup-winning roster...
Hershey clinched its second consecutive East Division title Wednesday with a win at Binghamton. The Bears owned a 21-point lead over second place heading into the weekend. Hamilton is the only other club to have clinched a playoff berth so far…
Worcester goalie Alex Stalock has debuted in fine fashion this season. The Sharks' rookie netminder tied the AHL record for wins by a rookie goalie (35) that was set in the 1992-93 season by Corey Hirsch of the Binghamton Rangers...
Playoff races and the traditional second-half spike in interest are factors in luring fans to AHL arenas in greater numbers. Providence (10,110), Chicago (10,148) and Milwaukee (15,253) all drew big crowds last weekend. In all, 35 games this past weekend drew more than 208,000 fans altogether...
Sunday afternoon's Abbotsford-Toronto game at Ricoh Coliseum will be shown across Canada on CBC at 1 p.m. EST. Fans in the United States can watch the game on the NHL Network.
From THN.com American League correspondent Patrick Williams, Around The AHL keeps tabs on the world's second best circuit, details all the news and notes and profiling prospects destined for the next level. It appears every weekend only on TheHockeyNews.com.