Starting Feb. 5, the American Hockey League will drop the puck on its 2021 regular season, according to a statement released Wednesday by the league:
.@TheAHL Board of Governors has approved the structural framework for an AHL season that will begin on February 5, 2021. pic.twitter.com/l5Yk0z2rht— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) December 30, 2020
First-year AHL President and CEO Scott Howson made the announcement following a meeting of the AHL Board of Governors. The move comes after the 2019-20 AHL regular season was halted by the pandemic, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs.
It’s not only great news for AHL clubs but it’s also of vital importance to their NHL affiliates. That’s especially true with the Blackhawks, as any type of Rockford IceHogs season will provide significant ice time for several key prospects working their way up the hockey pipeline, including Nicolas Beaudin, Philipp Kurashev and Alec Regula.
The announcement means NHL teams can better plan for their seasons in terms of prospect development, with teams bringing back players that had been playing overseas on loans. Following Tuesday’s recall of Tim Soderlund from Sweden, the Blackhawks have recalled every player organizational piece that had been loaned to a European team:
The #Blackhawks have now recalled every player they had loaned to European clubs.— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) December 30, 2020
Here's a look at scoring totals during league play for Matej Chalupa, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, Tim Soderlund, Pius Suter and Michal Teply. #Blackhawks #IceHogs #HawksProspects pic.twitter.com/EGic9R3NeD
With a finite number of roster spots available at the NHL level, several Blackhawks prospects should be suiting up for the IceHogs this season, making them an important team to watch starting Feb. 5.