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.