During the offseason. the ECHL instituted a rule change that ended the ability of NHL teams to share an affiliation. Thus, the Cincinnati Cyclones became the sole affiliate of the Nashville Predators, leaving the Florida Panthers without an official ECHL association in 2015-16.
The majority of Florida's professional prospects are playing in the AHL for the Portland Pirates. With the Manchester Monarchs (the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings) located nearby, the Pirates have had the luxury of a parking a few extra players in the lower-tier league. Two of those are players originally assigned to Portland are signed to entry-level contracts by the Panthers. Let's take a look at how they doing in the ECHL so far this season.
Colin Stevens (G)
After finishing his NCAA career at Union College, Colin Stevens signed his ELC with the Cats this past spring. With former Panther farmhand Michael Houser getting the bulk of the early starts in Manchester, Stevens has seen action just twice. The 22-year-old got his first pro start on October 25, and made 23 saves in a 5-2 loss at home to the Adirondack Thunder. Stevens did better his second time around, turning aside 36 of the 39 shots he faced in a tough 4-2 road loss to the Brampton Beast on November 8.
Stevens is currently 0-2 with a 4.05 GAA and .881 save percentage. Hopefully, he will get more playing time as the season progress, although that is not guaranteed with the veteran Houser and now Kings prospect Patrik Bartosak on hand.
Josh Brown (D)
Towering defenseman Josh Brown, a sixth-round selection (152nd overall) of the Panthers back in 2011, has suited up in 10 of the 11 games the Monarchs have played thus far. The former Oshawa General scored his first professional goal on October 24 against Adirondack and has added two assists since then for a total of three points. Brown sports a team-best +9 rating and has racked up 21 PIM.
With the Pirates stacked enough on defense that they have had to loan AHL veteran Yann Sauve to the Monarchs, look for Brown to spend the rest of the season in Manchester, where he will continue learning the ropes in the slow and steady manner the Panthers set out for defensive prospects Alex Petrovic and Jonathan Racine, who play a similar style game.