WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers announced they have renewed their affiliation agreement with the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League and Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League for the 2013-14 season.
Wheeling enters its fourth consecutive season as the ECHL affiliate for both Montreal and Hamilton, as well as its ninth season overall with the Canadiens.
During 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 appeared in all 53 regular-season and playoff games for the Canadiens in 2012-13.
"We are fortunate to continue our partnership with the Canadiens," Nailers Governor Don Rigby said. "We look forward to developing their young talent here in Wheeling."
Montreal, Hamilton, and Wheeling experienced a significant amount of shuffling of players between levels last season. Ten different players dressed in at least one game for both the Nailers and Bulldogs during the 2012-13 campaign, led by forward Stefan Chaput, who produced 17 points in 48 games with Hamilton, after recording nine points in 15 games with Wheeling. The Bulldogs and Canadiens also saw six players appear for both teams, including rookie forward Brendan Gallagher, whose 28 points led him to being a finalist for the NHL's Calder Trophy.
"We are excited to continue our relationship with the Nailers organization, and look forward to continuing to develop some of our young prospects in Wheeling,'' Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said.
The 2013-14 crop of future Canadiens and Bulldogs will begin their season with the Nailers at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, when they play host to the Elmira Jackals at WesBanco Arena.