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5 AHL Players Ready to Make NHL Impact

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AHL Players Ready to Make NHL Impact

Kadri
Players like Nazem Kadri have come from the AHL to make significant impacts in the NHL in 2013, who could be next? (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

In the lockout shortened season of 2013, with a condensed 48 game schedule, points are at a premium and injuries occur more frequently.

Most teams will rely on the depth of their current roster as well as that of the organization as much as their star players for success. It will be the teams that can either avoid injury or have their injury replacements step in and not miss a beat that will be successful come the end of the season.

The main source of those players stepping in will be from the AHL. Whether it's as an injury replacement or simply to add a spark, those teams with AHL depth have a significant resource and competitive edge.

There have been some AHLers that have already been up whether it was from the beginning of the NHL season in January or in the meantime. Players such as Cory Conacher (Tampa Bay), Nazem Kadri (Toronto) and Jonas Brodin (Minnesota) to name a few have made significant impacts on their respective clubs following their AHL time.

The requirements for this list was that they have played at least 25 AHL games this season and three or fewer NHL games.

Which means players like Jason Zucker (Minnesota) and Andrei Loktionov (New Jersey) have been up long enough to have already made an impact and are currently in their team's lineups.

Here are a few names to watch for that have either just have been called up or could be next in line for the call by their NHL clubs.

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5. Nino Niederreiter, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)

Niederreiter
Timothy T Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Having a terrific AHL season with 22 goals, Neiderreiter was very upset not to start the season in January with the Islanders. He didn't exactly stay quiet on the matter and there have been rumours he has asked for a trade. Whether it is to inject some offense into the lineup or to be showcased for a trade, Neiderreiter has played well enough to earn a callup and should be only a matter of time.

The 5th overall pick in 2010 has struggled early in his career as he played 55 NHL games last season registering only one goal. His game appears to have matured, even if his attitude hasn't, this season.

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4. Robin Lehner, Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators)

Lehner

Technically he is already on the Sens roster, having just made his first start for the Sens last night. He lost in OT to the Bruins but had 44 saves in the process. He's gotten a chance to come up with the injury to Craig Anderson and could soon be sent back with Anderson's return. However, with three NHL calibre goaltenders and all playing well, Bryan Murray may look to deal Ben Bishop for help in other areas. If that happens, Lehner could be up permanently.

He's had a stellar season in Binghamton so far going 18-10-2 with a 2.12GAA and .938S%, and is ready to make an impact at the next level.

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3. Tyler Toffoli, Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings)

Toffoli
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the reason Dean Lombardi could afford to deal away Simon Gagne is that he has offensive talents like Toffoli waiting in the wings in Manchester. A goal scorer by trade, Toffoli could inject some extra offense into the Kings lineup if called upon. Even with the talent they have up front, the Kings have still struggled to score goals at times this year.

Toffoli could help in that regard, he has 26 goals in 51 games for the Monarchs this season.

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2. Jacob Markstrom, San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers)

Markstrom
Charles LeClair-USA TODAY Sports

Considered one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey, Markstrom has gotten a brief NHL taste over the last couple of years and made two starts this season. He lost both but saw 65 shots in the process and was far from the reason they lost.

Returned to San Antonio as the Panthers have Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmenson on the roster, he could be back soon as Florida may look to deal one of the two and make room for Markstrom on the NHL roster

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1. Gustav Nyquist, Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings)

Nyquist
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

The AHL's scoring leader, on many other teams would already be playing in the NHL. The fact that the Red Wings like to leave their prospects in the AHL for developmental reasons longer than most is why Nyquist is still toiling in Grand Rapids. The signing and subsquent success of free agent Damien Brunner has also blocked his path this year.

A talented offensive player, Nyquist is the prototypical Wing, smart with the puck and without and plays with a high hockey IQ. He could be set to make an immediate impact when he gets called back up.