Friday, August 24, 2012

Lockout Limbo?

J.T. Miller (Plymouth Whalers)
It is a question that I don't think either the New York Rangers or New York Islanders are ready to address but what exactly does happen with their prospects on September 15th if there is a lockout? So many are affected by whether or not the NHL locks out their players and it is leaving many in a limbo.

Can either team hold any kind of rookie camp if the NHL does in fact lockout the NHL players? From the signs of things it does not look like that would be a possibility and that will cause a domino effect throughout the prospect world.

No rookie camps means that CHL coaches who were hoping to look at their future players might not be able to since those players that teams were expecting to attend an NHL camp won't be.

And then one has to ask what about who can attend the training camps of the AHL teams from among the prospects? The Rangers and Islanders have players who should be eligible to play in the AHL if there was no lock out.

For the Rangers the only player from their current roster would be Chris Kreider who has not even played a single NHL regular season. It appears that any player who is exempt from waivers would be the only ones allowed to be assigned to AHL teams.

While Kreider is the only one Ranger, the Islanders would be able to send Nino Niederreiter and Travis Hamonic to play for Bridgeport in the AHL. Hamonic doesn't belong in the AHL as he has proved he is an NHL player.

But there are also prospects who might have had a shot at earning a spot on the Islander roster but are not eligible to play in the AHL. Ryan Strome is the main prospect affected because he is just 19.

Strome though has to go back to Niagara IceDogs simply because of his age and it doesn't matter if the NHL/CHL agreement has expired or not. Strome goes back for a season that does him no good in terms of development and has more risk than any reward.

Strome has nothing left to do at junior level but he has no other option if the NHL lockout actually happens. There are talented prospects all over the NHL who will be playing for a junior team if a lockout happens.

Brenden Kichton (2011 5th) was the best defenseman in the WHL's Western Conference last season. Normally that would have earned him a look by the Islanders but Kichton is just 20 and the Islanders will have too many defenders for the AHL team thus Kichton gets to spend the year in the WHL.

Depending on which person you listen to but the possibility may exist that even Christian Thomas could find himself sent back to the OHL because of the lockout. It would be neither fair or right but that is how the system at times works especially during times where the NHL has labor issues.

And here is a question I would really like an answer to; what happens if the NHL winds up with a work stoppage but then settles it right around the New Year?

Can one picture the disruption that would have on the minor pro leagues as well as the Canadian juniors? Do you pull those prospects who would have attended your training camps off their junior teams for an NHL training camp?

What a mess that would create all over the hockey world and all because nobody knows what will happen.

Game Action

The QMJHL remains the only league playing preseason games as the WHL is just opening up their training camps. The OHL will start having camps open up next weekend.

The thing to watch for is which players report to their respective CHL camps and which don't. That will be a very interesting sight to see because of the possible NHL lockout.

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