NHL Lockout: 5 Young Players Benefiting from Playing in AHL or Overseas
Playing overseas or in the AHL during the lockout has benefited quite a few of the NHL's young stars.
There's no guarantee that these players will continue to be very productive at both ends of the ice when the NHL season starts, but it's encouraging for teams to see their young players playing at a high level during the work stoppage.
Let's look at five young NHL stars playing well overseas or in the AHL.
Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia Flyers
Brayden Schenn is currently the third highest scorer in the AHL, which is great news for Philadelphia Flyers fans.
He has scored nine goal with 13 assists in 17 games for the Adirondack Phantoms.
Schenn could be a major factor in the Flyers' offense in 2012-13 and will be expected to have a breakout season.
Injuries limited the 21-year-old forward to just 54 games last season, and he scored just 12 goals with six assists. He raised his game in the playoffs, scoring three goals with six assists in 11 games for the Flyers.
Seeing Schenn produce offensively and stay injury free during the lockout is a welcome sight for the Flyers.
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask played very well for HC Plzen in the Czech Republic during the lockout, and according to Roman Jedlicka of TV Nova Sport, he is coming back to North America.
#Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will play the last game for Pilsen in Czech league on Fri. Then he comes backs to Boston to wait for NHL start.— Roman Jedlicka (@jedli) November 21, 2012
Rask went 11-4 overseas, with a GAA of 2.11 and a .924 save percentage. The Bruins are hoping that Rask can lead the team on a deep playoff run as the No. 1 goaltender, but he will likely have to play more games than he did over the past two seasons combined.
His strong performances overseas during the lockout are an encouraging sign for the Bruins, whose championship hopes in 2012-13 rest on Rask's shoulders.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a very successful rookie campaign last year and is building on that success in the AHL this season.
He has scored eight goals with 12 assists in 17 games thus far, which ranks fourth on the AHL's scoring leaderboard.
Nugent-Hopkins is going to become one of the NHL's elite centers very soon, and his playmaking skills and vision have been a crucial part of the Oklahoma City Barons' offense this year.
Young Edmonton Oilers players Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins rank first, second and fourth in the AHL in scoring, respectively.
John Tavares, New York Islanders
John Tavares is displaying his elite offensive skills to hockey fans in Switzerland during the lockout. He has scored nine goals with 15 assists in 16 games for SC Bern of the National A League.
It's no surprise that the New York Islanders star is playing at a point-per-game level overseas, and the encouraging part of his performances for SC Bern has been his impressive defense.
If Tavares has another great season in 2012-13, the Islanders could make a surprise playoff push in the Eastern Conference.
Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
Matt Duchene is a very important part of the Colorado Avalanche's future, and he is currently playing for Vastra Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League during the lockout.
He has scored one goal with eight assists in nine games overseas.
The 21-year-old forward played in just 58 games last year because of injuries and will be expected to have a bounce-back season in 2012-13.
Duchene has first-line talent but needs to stay healthy to reach his full potential. If he can stay in the Avalanche lineup consistently, Duchene could be a 30-goal, 50-assist player for many seasons.