NHL Lockout: 5 AHL Teams You Need to Pay Attention to

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NHL Lockout: 5 AHL Teams You Need to Pay Attention to
David Maxwell/Getty Images

While the NHL lockout rages on in North America's biggest hockey hubs, the American Hockey League is well into its 2012-13 season and steadily garnering support in a plethora of smaller markets.

From Portland, Maine, to Houston, Texas, to Abbotsford, British Columbia, AHL hockey has taken root in recent years and has now been flooded by swarms of young, NHL-caliber talent.

Justin Schultz? Nino Niederreiter? Sven Baertschi? Justin Faulk? Jordan Eberle? They've all found places among the AHL's top 30 scorers as their top-level teammates remain locked out, and their success has made the minor leagues more relevant than ever this winter.

More than a few teams are tearing up the league with an influx of television-worthy youngsters. Which squads are worth paying attention to? We point out five that could fulfill your desire for professional hockey during the NHL work stoppage.

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