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San Jose Sharks Make ECHL's San Francisco Bulls An Affiliate

As the San Francisco Bulls get ready to open their inaugural season in the ECHL at the Cow Palace it was announced on Wednesday that the NHL's San Jose Sharks have made the Bulls their affiliate, according to David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News.

The Bulls are one of 23 teams in the ECHL, a league that began as the East Coast Hockey League. San Francisco opens their inaugural season on October 12 at the Cow Palace, where the Sharks played their first two seasons.Pat Curcio - the team's CEO, general manager and coach - called the new partnership "an incredible honor."

An NHL affiliation benefits the Bulls because it equates to an upgrade in talent. San Jose can provide as many as six skaters and two goalies to the Bulls. Even though the ECHL has a strict weekly salary cap of $525 per player, NHL prospects can earn more than that while playing in that league by still being paid by the Sharks as well.

The primary benefit for the Sharks is the chance to give goaltending prospects extra work close to home. Past ECHL goalies now in the NHL include Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals.

"If you look at San Jose right now, they're real deep in goaltending," Curcio said. "We're optimistic we can have two of their goaltenders here full-time."

Sharks assistant general manager Wayne Thomas said the two teams "share the same passion to put a strong, competitive product on the ice, as well as being an active member in our shared Bay Area communities."

Seems like a win-win for Bay Area hockey.

For more on the San Jose Sharks, make sure to check out Fear The Fin.