NHL Lockout 2012: Are Albany Devils Worth Watching?

By Mark Donatiello
Ed Mulholland – US PRESSWIRE

The NHL Lockout is already responsible for the cancellation of all September preseason games, which serves as little more than a warning that real hockey might soon be lost too.  For those that care about the lost opportunity to evaluate prospects, fear not;  The AHL will be better than ever this year as most players on two-way contracts will report from their respective NHL affiliates.

The New Jersey Devils sent 24 players to the AHL before the lockout began.  Among them, playoff hero Adam Henrique, fan favorite Jacob Josefson, and last year’s first-round pick Adam Larsson.  All goalies under forty will be in the AHL.  Ultimately, the AHL season offers an elevated competition opportunity for better evaluating young talent – even if the Devils’ top foreign players don’t stay in Albany.

Ilya Kovalchuk will be playing in Russia, you won’t be able to see Martin Brodeur play hockey in the US until the NHL lockout ends, and the Albany Devils certainly lack the depth and star power of their NHL counterparts.  However, as top young talent moves into the NHL to avoid the lockout, the AHL will be loaded with talent.  The Albany Devils roster is no exception.

With a schedule that includes some stops in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate is within reach.  There are a couple exciting evaluations to look forward to during the NHL lockout due to the enhanced AHL roster.  It’s not much, but it’s certainly worth looking at as New Jersey Devils fans grow desperate for hockey.

Mattias Tedenby will be fighting for a roster spot.  After a horrible NHL season last year, he recovered in the AHL to post respectable numbers.  In an AHL that has NHL-caliber talent, will Tedenby continue to build on last year’s success?  Can Adam Henrique continue to excel as a two-way center after his clutch goals during New Jersey’s playoff run sent the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers home in overtime?  Will a goaltender emerge as the replacement for Martin Brodeur, who could be in his final NHL contract?

Ultimately, the New Jersey Devils, even after their Stanley Cup run, have a plethora of questions about the future of their franchise.  The Albany Devils, should the NHL season be postponed further, represent an opportunity to see NHL issues resolved while the NHL lockout plays out.

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