On Friday, the NHL announced that the league would be keeping its doors shut until at least December, and with neither side sounding optimistic about the prospect of getting a deal done soon, it appears that the opening puck drop for the 2012-13 season may never happen.
If the season is ultimately cancelled, most teams won't get better, especially those—like San Jose—that are led by aging stars, and nobody will look back on the lost year fondly.
But some will improve.
Assuming that the 2012-13 season is lost, here's a look at some of the teams that will improve even without NHL hockey this season.
This one's obvious as the Oilers have four of hockey's most promising young forwards in former No. 1 overall picks Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, not to mention 22-year-old All-Star Jordan Eberle.
Now with the NHL lockout underway, Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle will develop even more chemistry as a line, and they'll be ready to take the league by storm next season.
Though the Canadiens, who finished 15th in the East in 2012, were among the league's most disappointing teams a year ago, Montreal's pipeline is stocked with good young players.
Carey Price is just entering his prime, Max Pacioretty looks like a star in the making, and No. 3 overall pick Alex Galchenyuk will get another year to develop before making his much-anticipated NHL debut.
Not to mention the fact that they'll only be on the hook for one more season with two-goal, $7 million man Scott Gomez, whose annual salary drops significantly to $4.5 million in 2013-14.
Like Montreal, the Avs were among the league's biggest duds last season, but they also boast one of the game's most impressive collection of budding stars up front.
Newly-minted captain Gabriel Landeskog, All-Star Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly are all going to be top-flight forwards for a long time in Denver, and promising young netminder Semyon Varlamov will be even better when he returns from the KHL.
They may lose longtime sniper Milan Hedjuk as a result of the lockout, but the Avs are certainly a team on the rise.
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