The New York Islanders have a new minor league affiliate team – the Stockton Thunder. The teams announced the new affiliation agreement on Wednesday afternoon. The agreement provides the Islanders with another destination as an option for some of their prospects who may not be ready to play in the AHL with their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. This also gives Islander fans another minor league team to take a genuine interest in, although the Stockton Thunder are based in Stockton, CA which is much further away from Long Island than Bridgeport, CT.
As Islander’s General Manager Garth Snow said, “The culture of success in Stockton will benefit our prospects and develop them into better hockey players as they work their way from the ECHL, to the AHL and eventually playing for the New York Islanders.” The Stockton Thunder have made the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs every year for the last seven years, which is good news for the Islander’s system. A strong ECHL affiliate should be an asset to the Islanders, who can have some peace of mind knowing that their prospects are developing in a strong system. Interestingly enough, Islanders forward Colin McDonald played with the Stockton Thunder during the 2008-09 season before he was a part of the Islander’s organization.
The New York Islanders most recently had affiliations with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL from 2010-11, and the Utah Grizzliess from 2007-10. Since 2011, the team has been without an ECHL affiliate.