Canucks confirm purchase of AHL’s Rivermen

The Vancouver Canucks have purchased the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League.

The Vancouver Canucks confirmed Monday that they’ve purchased the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League.

News of the deal between Canucks Sports & Entertainment and the St. Louis Blues, previous owners of the Rivermen, broke on the weekend, initially reported by the Peoria Journal Star.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Canucks,” owner/chairman Francesco Aquilini stated in a press release. “The purchase of the Peoria franchise allows us to take an important step and assume full control of our minor league development program.”

The deal is subject to approval by the AHL, and the Canucks press release indicated the team will not have further comment at this time, out of respect for the approval process.

There’s much speculation that the Canucks could station their AHL team in Abbotsford, replacing the Calgary Flames-affiliated Heat, who have played out of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre the past four seasons.

Rumours bubbled to the surface in late February that Utica, N.Y. could be a potential landing spot for the Heat should the Flames choose to move them.

The Canucks’ two-year affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves expires at the end of this season, and the Wolves would be a potential partner for the Blues as they search for an AHL team to link up with for 2013-14.