WICHITA, Kan. (August 25) – The Wichita Thunder, powered by Toyota, announced today that the Thunder have entered into an affiliation agreement with the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks and American Hockey League's San Jose Barracuda for the 2022-23 season.
"We’re very excited to partner with San Jose for this coming season,” stated General Manager Joel T. Lomurno. “I want to thank Joe Will and John McCarthy for their willingness to work with us this year. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship for this and hopefully many seasons to come."
Under the affiliation agreement, the Sharks will be able to designate players within their development system for assignment with the Thunder. The club will also be composed of players who are signed to two-way AHL contracts in addition to those on ECHL contracts (under agreement with the Thunder).
“We’re looking forward to working with the Wichita Thunder, including Head Coach Bruce Ramsay and General Manager Joel T. Lomurno,” said Sharks Assistant General Manager and San Jose Barracuda (AHL) General Manager Joe Will. “Having a solid affiliation in the ECHL is important to our player development plan and the ECHL has a solid track record with preparing prospects for their NHL and AHL careers.”
San Jose joined the NHL in 1991. The Sharks have advanced to the Western Conference Final five times, which included them capturing the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009. San Jose has also earned five Pacific Division titles and made a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016.
"I'm very excited to be working with the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda," commented Head Coach Bruce Ramsay. "I look forward to helping develop players for their organization that could potentially play in the NHL. The Sharks have a lot of excitement around them with the hiring of Mike Grier as their new GM and David Quinn as their new Head Coach. We look forward to helping assist in building a winning culture for all three organizations."
In 2015, the Sharks relocated their AHL franchise to San Jose and were named the Barracuda. The Sharks have a rich history of developing players through their AHL team. Players who spent time with their AHL affiliate include captain Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Alexander Barabanov, and Noah Gregor. The Barracuda will open up their new arena this year, playing at the Tech CU Arena.
Current Sharks players James Reimer (Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays) and Steven Lorentz (Florida Everblades) initially started their career in the ECHL before making their respective NHL debuts. Sharks Assistant Coach Scott Gordon (Johnstown Chiefs) was the first ECHL graduate to ever play in the NHL, while NHL Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer (Idaho Steelheads and Las Vegas Wranglers) also played in the ECHL.
Sharks Assistant Coach Ryan Warsofsky (South Carolina, 2016-18) and Gordon (Roanoke Express, 1998-00) have also served as head coaches in the ECHL, while Speer spent three seasons as a goaltending coach with the Allen Americans (2014-17) while they were affiliated with the Sharks.
San Jose will be the third NHL partner for the Thunder since joining the ECHL. Wichita has previously worked with the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers.
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