It was announced this morning that the Tampa Bay Lightning will continue their affiliation with the Syracuse Crunch AHL franchise through the 2016-17 season. It wasn't immediately clear if the Bolts simply picked up their two years of options with the Crunch of if the affiliation deal was a new and fresh one.
The Lightning began their affiliation with Syracuse during 2012-13, with the AHL club going all the way to the Calder Cup finals, ultimately losing to the Grand Rapids Griffins in that series. Syracuse failed to make the playoffs last season in what was largely a rebuilding year for them, as many on the team - including center Tyler Johnson, wings Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Alex Killorn, defenseman Radko Gudas and Mark Barberio as well as head coach Jon Cooper - had graduated from the AHL ranks to the NHL. All in all, the Crunch is 74-54-10-14 over the past two seasons.
The 2014-15 season for the Bolts top minor league affiliate should be an interesting one, as former 1st round draft picks Slater Koekkoek and Andrei Vasilevskiy will be among other Lightning prospects who make their AHL debuts this season.