All indications point to the Florida Panthers as the Portland Pirates’ National Hockey League affiliate starting next season. The Pirates plan an announcement on their new affiliate Wednesday.

The Pirates are in their fourth and final season as the American Hockey League partner of the Arizona Coyotes, whose general manager confirmed over the weekend that the partnership would not be renewed.

The Panthers are affiliated with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, but that agreement is also due to expire. A Panthers official declined to comment on the team’s affiliation plans.

Brad Church, the Pirates’ chief operating officer, said he had spoken only with potential NHL partners whose AHL affiliation agreements are due to expire this season. He specifically ruled out the New York Rangers, whose deal with the Hartford Wolf Pack extends through 2015-16.

The Washington Capitals, whose AHL team is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, have yet to renew their deal beyond this season. Capitals spokesman Sergey Kocharov wrote in an email response, “We are negotiating an extension of our AHL affiliation agreement with the Hershey Bears and do not have any comment about ongoing negotiations at this time.”

Doug Yingst, the president-general manager of Hershey, was even more definitive in a comment to reporter Tim Leone of The Patriot-News of central Pennsylvania.


“I am certain that the Caps will not announce that they’re affiliated with Portland this week,” Yingst told Leone.

Portland was a Washington affiliate for 12 seasons beginning in 1993 and won its only Calder Cup championship in the spring of 1994. Since the Capitals left Maine for Hershey in 2005, the Pirates have been affiliated with Anaheim and Buffalo before the Coyotes came to Portland in 2011.

Florida has been affiliated with San Antonio for four seasons. The Rampage are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 74 points and attempting to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

The Pirates, riding a season-best seven-game winning streak, are tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. Portland, which finished with the league’s worst record a year ago, last made the playoffs in 2013.

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