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Locked-out NHL rising stars and top prospects are shining in AHL

Nov 22, 2012, 8:17 PM EDT

Brayden Schenn Getty Images

This lockout obviously isn’t fun for the fans and it’s a good bet that if you asked just about any AHL player if he’d rather be in the NHL right now, he’d say yes. Still, the work stoppage is giving some highly regarded youngsters a chance to hone their skills in a lockout-improved AHL.

During the last lockout, a few players like Jason Spezza dominated in the AHL before taking a big leap forward in 2005-06. Edmonton Oilers fans should hope that history will repeat itself.

Oilers defensive prospect Justin Schultz has been incredible in the minors and is showing no signs of slowing down. He leads the league with 23 points in 16 games and has only been held off the scoresheet twice. On top of that Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall have all been putting up big numbers in the minors.

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Brayden Schenn has also been looking pretty good lately. He had a modest 18 points in 54 games with the Flyers last season, but he’s been red hot lately and now has 20 points in 15 contests.

Lastly, New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter is leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with nine goals and 18 points in 15 contests. Niederreiter didn’t even scratched the surface of his offensive potential during his stints with the Islanders, but the squad also limited him to an average of 10:06 minutes in 55 NHL games last season. Like the players mentioned above, Niederreiter might be very impressive once this lockout ends.

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