On the Flip Side: NHL Lockout Positives
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By James Stephan (@J_Habs)
While the NHL and NHLPA are hard at work (or hardly working) to come to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are beginning to make arrangements for their 2012-2013 plans.
Many are scratching their heads, and are left with giant palm prints on their foreheads from all the frustration that has transpired these past few weeks. People are shouting “I can’t believe we’re going down this road….again” and I’m certain the players are thinking the exact same thing.
Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Plekanec, are just some of the many players that have already signed lockout contracts with European teams located anywhere from Switzerland, to Russia. Others have been re-assigned to their respective junior clubs, and a plethora of players have been assigned to the American Hockey League.
While no one is suggesting for one moment that the NHL lockout is a good thing, it has unfortunately happened, and we are forced to take a step back and look at the positives.
Where to watch Hockey?
With the AHL receiving a massive infusion of high quality players into their rosters they will be the league to watch. With the likes of Henrique, Oliver-Ekman Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and company joining their NHL farm teams, we are likely to see fast paced, high scoring hockey.
These players will not only get to play the game they love, but will also be hard at work developing their skills, and it is important to note that in the last Lockout, players such as Eric Staal, and Jason Spezza played a full season in the AHL, after having received seasoning from the NHL. Spezza recorded 117 points in 80 games with the Binghamton Senators while Staal recorded 77 points in 77 games with Lowell.
Following their dominant AHL seasons, both players went on to have excellent seasons, Staal recording 100 points in 82 games, and Spezza tallying a total of 90 points in 68 games.
No one is claiming that any of the players assigned to the AHL during the current lockout will break out and have stellar 100 point campaigns, however it is definitely a plus for their development whether they’ve already played a full season in the NHL or not.
This will be an excellent time for young players to sharpen their skills, and truly dominate, they will be given the opportunities to shine, and truly test how far they can push themselves.
Aside from the American Hockey League, a few other leagues to keep an eye on will be the CHL (OHL, WHL, QMJHL), NCAA, Swedish Elite, and of course the KHL, as there will be an abundance of skill and competition to satisfy your Hockey craving.
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