10 Players Who Have Benefitted From The NHL Lockout
10 Players Who Have Benefitted From the NHL Lockout
The thought of the lockout being good for some players may seem a bit weird, but a handful of young players are using the opportunity to further improve their game in the AHL, injured veterans have been given extra time to heal, and some free agent players are making a strong case for another NHL shot when the lockout ends. The AHL has been graced with an influx of top-end talent this season, led by the Edmonton Oilers’ quartet of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz playing for the Oklahoma City Barons. Much like today’s NHL regulars Jason Spezza and Mike Cammalleri did during the 2004-05 lockout, these youngsters and others like the Philadelphia Flyers’ Brayden Schenn and the Phoenix Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson are using an AHL season to show that they are truly ready for full-time duty at the top level. Players who would have missed the start of the 2012-13 season due to injury have been given extra time to heal, and now could be ready to go when the lockout ends and the season begins. The Chicago Blackhawks' Marian Hossa has had a chance to shake off the effects of a playoff concussion, while the Dallas Stars’ Derek Roy and the New York Rangers’ Marian Gaborik are back on the ice after off-season surgeries. While many players have suffered because of the lockout, a handful have been given a chance to heal or a chance to shine in the AHL, giving their respective NHL teams something to look forward to when the lockout ends.
The Edmonton Oilers’ Taylor Hall was given extra time to recover from shoulder surgery, and joined the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons a few weeks into the season. Despite joining the Barons late, he has four goals and 14 points in 10 games and was recently named the AHL’s Player of the Week. Hall also gets to continue to establish chemistry with Oilers teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz as the lockout continues.
Dan Ellis is playing so well in the AHL during the lockout, he may very well have earned himself another NHL contract when the lockout ends. Ellis signed a free agent deal with the Charlotte Checkers, and the former Tampa Bay Lightning netminder is showing he still has some gas in the tank. He owns a 5-3-2 record this season with two shutouts, and has the Checkers in second place in the Western Conference.
Brayden Schenn has all but guaranteed he will see full-time NHL duty once the lockout ends. Acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers in the trade that sent Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings, Schenn saw 54 games of NHL time last season and scored 12 goals. He is currently third in scoring in the AHL, pacing the Adirondack Phantoms with nine goals and 22 points through 18 games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is quickly proving that the flashes of greatness he showed as a rookie with the Phoenix Coyotes last season were no fluke. His rookie season saw him score 13 goals and 32 points, and he is maintaining a point-per-game pace on the blue line this season for the AHL’s Portland Pirates.
Sven Baertschi caught the eye of Calgary Flames fans during a five-game NHL stint last season, during which he scored three goals. He was expected to have a chance to crack the lineup at training camp this season, but the lockout changed that. Baertschi has not been deterred, however, and has six goals and 16 points through 18 games for the Abbotsford Heat.
Former University of Maine standout Gustav Nyquist got Detroit Red Wings fans excited during his NHL appearances last season, and is showing that the speed and offensive flair he demonstrated in Detroit is still there. He should be a lock to make the Red Wings roster when the lockout ends, and sits sixth in AHL scoring with eight goals and 19 points for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Marian Gaborik underwent surgery in June to repair a torn labrum suffered during last season’s playoffs. The New York Rangers expected him to need up to six months to recover, but he has been participating in workouts with teammates and could now be available when the lockout ends.
The Dallas Stars acquired Derek Roy in a July trade that sent Steve Ott to the Buffalo Sabres, then found out he would need shoulder surgery. He was expected to miss the start of the season, but with the lockout he could now be available when the season begins. He has been doing off-ice conditioning and couls begin skating soon. Roy has come under some fire this offseason while using his Twitter one day to show off a new Lamborghini, then stating that players “just want to play.”
Marian Hossa gave Chicago Blackhawks fans a scare when he left the ice on a stretcher following a vicious hit by the Phoenix Coyotes’ Raffi Torres. With the lingering effects of a serious concussion, Hossa likely would have missed some time at the start of the season, The lockout has given him time to slowly work back to full strength, and he has resumed on-ice workouts.
Nino Niederreiter might have spent the bulk of last season with the New York Islanders, but only registered one goal in 55 games. So far, he appears to be using his AHL time during the lockout to work on his all-around game and has once again found his offensive touch. Playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he has nine goals and 18 points in 17 games.