( Photo Credit: ECHL.com )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow me on Twitter @ifrazier95
With the 2018-2019 season coming to a close and the Bruins still playing for the Stanley Cup, the offseason is right around the corner for the black and gold.
Down in the ECHL, the Bruins’ affiliate Atlanta Gladiators had a disappointing season by missing the Kelley Cup playoffs by only a few points. While their season comes to a close and the Kelley Cup is in the hands of the Newfoundland Growlers, the negotiation period is about to open up for NHL teams to discuss affiliation deals with ECHL clubs. The Atlanta Gladiators contract is ending with the Bruins and therefore leads us to the question of “who do the Bruins look to sign an affiliation contract with?” Below are a few options to consider.

Atlanta Gladiators

Quite simply the easiest team to link with the Bruins due to their current contract ending and with the familiarity between both front offices. The Bruins could simply sign a renewal contract on the dotted line and continue to partner with the Gladiators.

Greenville Swamp Rabbits 

Located in South Carolina, the Swamp Rabbits have been chomping at the bit to grab an affiliate for years as they have been independent for the last three seasons. The south has become a new age hockey region with the surges of the Hurricanes and Lighting so maybe it’s worth dipping into the “snowbird” fans down in the Carolina’s.

Rapid City Rush

Located in South Dakota, Rapid City has been an interesting team in the last couple of years in terms of affiliation. They originally started as the affiliate to the Minnesota Wild until Vegas came into the league and then they were assigned to them until Vegas signed an affiliation contract with the Fort Wayne Komets. This team has a very good financial situation with just signing a five-year contract extension to remain in the ECHL. A Bruins affiliation could help extend that contract longer if the Bruins are partnered with them in the next few years when the next ECHL team contract is up.

What about other teams? 

As many of you New England locals know, the Manchester Monarchs were also an ECHL team located in the New Hampshire area and would have been an option as an affiliate. Unfortunately, the organization folded last offseason due to financial difficulties once the LA Kings dropped their affiliation with them, and they struggled to gain any attendance boost after the fact.
The same thing can be said about the Quad City Mallards who were located in Iowa and Illinois (City is located right on the border). Quad City used to be affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks until they opted out of the contract due to them suspending operations.
When the offseason starts, the Bruins will have some interesting choices when it comes to affiliates, and Jeremy Jacobs will have some decisions to make. Look for the affiliate announcement in July if the Bruins go for a new partnership or earlier if they decide to resign the agreement with Atlanta.