The Wheeling Nailers announced today that they have extended their affiliation agreement with the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League and Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.
Wheeling enters its fifth consecutive season as the ECHL affiliate for both Montreal and Hamilton, as well as its tenth season overall with the Canadiens. Over the course of those years, seven former Nailers/Thunderbirds have made their NHL debuts with the Canadiens. In addition, a total of eight former Nailers/Thunderbirds have suited up with Montreal, including defenseman Francis Bouillon, who tallied two goals and six points in 52 games during the 2013-14 regular season.
“We are excited to extend our relationship with the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs,” said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. “Montreal has placed some very talented players in Wheeling in recent seasons, and we believe that with two strong affiliations, the Nailers will be able to put a successful team on the ice in 2014-15.”
Montreal, Hamilton, and Wheeling experienced a fair amount of movement throughout the system last season. Seven different players dressed in at least one game for both the Nailers and Bulldogs during the 2013-14 campaign, including goaltender Mike Condon, who established a team record with Wheeling for most shutouts in a single season (6). Montreal and Hamilton saw 11 players appear for both teams, led by Michael Bournival, who recorded seven goals, seven assists, and 14 points during his rookie season in the NHL.
“The Montreal Canadiens are very happy to extend our affiliation with the Wheeling Nailers. The players that we have put in there in the past have done well, and we have been pleased with their development. Clark Donatelli and the Wheeling organization have been great to work with, and we believe that this year will be even better,” said Montreal Canadiens Assistant General Manager Rick Dudley.
The 2014-15 crop of future Canadiens and Bulldogs will begin their season with the Nailers on Saturday, October 18th at 7:35, when they play host to the Reading Royals at WesBanco Arena.