While Detroit Red Wings fans are sitting at home wringing their hands over another lockout in preemptive mourning over the potential loss of games played from the 2012-13 season, Red Wings players are getting ready to play elsewhere in case of a lockout.
While the lockout is an actual threat to the season starting on time, here are three Red Wings players who could actually benefit from a work stoppage in the NHL.
Darren Helm had an unfortunate last month of the 2011-12 regular season.
A knee injury and a skate slice to the arm sidelined Helm for the time of the year that he plays best in: the playoffs.
Darren Helm says his arm is "still sore" (h/t Helene St. James of Detroit Free Press) when performing certain tasks.
St. James' article title suggests that the lockout could make Helm's comeback "short-lived," but realistically, playing in the AHL could be a great option to get Helm back into game shape. Helm spent a substantial amount of time waiting for his tendons to heal and could do with a little bit of AHL experience as a conditioning-like assignment as the NHL season waits to get underway.
Brendan Smith has matured a lot in two seasons in the AHL, putting up 32 and 34 points respectively over the past two years.
He also impressed many Red Wings fans when he put up seven points in just 14 NHL games last season.
Although Smith looks ready to step up and become an offensive juggernaut and a full-time NHL defenseman, his current deal ends after this season and he would become a restricted free free agent.
Smith needs to play one way or another and any lockout will allow him further time to get better in his own zone in the AHL before the NHL season kicks off.
For Red Wings fans, a full-season lockout would be a disaster, but it would mean that Smith gets a lower cap hit on his next deal, meaning the Red Wings can pursue other options during free agency next year without having to commit an excessive amount of money to their young defenseman.
Damien Brunner dominated the Swiss League last year with 60 points in 45 games.
This guy can flat out fly on skates (see for yourself in the above video) and he also has a sweet pair of hands to match.
But Brunner has never played in a North American league so he will need to develop ways to deal with the increased physicality that the AHL and NHL encourage in their game.
A mini-lockout (15-20 games) will be exactly what Brunner needs to adjust to this physicality and find a way to deal with it effectively if he is assigned to (and plays in) the AHL.
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