Ottawa Senators Announce New ECHL Affiliation With Atlanta Gladiators

GUELPH, ON - JANUARY 25: Kevin Mandolese #31 of Team Orr faces a shot in the warm-up prior to action against Team Cherry in the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects game at the Sleeman Centre on January 25, 2018 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 7-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
GUELPH, ON - JANUARY 25: Kevin Mandolese #31 of Team Orr faces a shot in the warm-up prior to action against Team Cherry in the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects game at the Sleeman Centre on January 25, 2018 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 7-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Mandolese #31 of Team Orr (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Kevin Mandolese #31 of Team Orr (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

A small, but, crucial move for the Senators organization

After being left without an ECHL during the pandemic, the Ottawa Senators have now added a new team to the pipeline, the Atlanta Gladiators. The ECHL is a league that is usually an afterthought to the average hockey fan provides a great avenue for NHL prospects (especially goalies) to develop their skills without sitting in the press box in the AHL.

The new partnership was announced this morning via the Senators official Twitter account:

Great News for Kevin Mandolese

This move primarily helps the Senators goaltending situation as it’s stacked to the brim with prospects, with both spots in Ottawa and Belleville likely taken by Matt Murray, Anton Forsberg, Filip Gustavsson and Mads Søgaard, this leaves Kevin Mandolese (The QMJHL Goalie of the Year in 2020) without a spot, but for no more. Expect the tall, athletic goaltender to start the season in Atlanta where he will carry the bulk of the starts out of the gate.

Mandolese 20, appeared in 9 games for Belleville last season, posting a 0.888 save percentage and a 4.03 goals-against-average, the lack of game action definitely played a role in his struggles. This has been a path that many goalies have taken on their road to the NHL, and it’s one that former Senators goaltender Joey Daccord took in the 2019-20 season. Daccord played in 10 games with the Senators ECHL affiliate at the time, the Brampton Beast, then he proceeded to become the indisputable starter in Belleville and I’m sure Daccord owes a depth of gratitude for his time in East Coast Hockey League.

This affiliation takes away many of the concerns that I had in regards to the Senators goaltending plan, now everything seems to be set in stone and set up for success.