As the lockout presumes in the NHL, the AHL is not getting a rest, not one bit, in fact it could be projected as one of the best financial seasons in history, even better than the season when the lockout was in effect in the NHL in the 2004-2005 season. Attendance soared to new heights for all of the AHL clubs in that season when the NHL couldn’t even solve their own problems. The season after the lockout, the NHL recorded a financial gross of just over a billion dollars(which was more before the lockout) and 6 years later it surged to $3.3 billion. This is a new situation for the AHL. Compared to the last lockout, the AHL has a chance to take 3 times as much gross margin from the NHL plus this time around fans are going to see a little bonus in the game. Many NHL clubs are assigning their players which have two-way contracts to the AHL and thats a big change from 6 years ago because a lot of those players then got assigned back to junior. The bright young prospects at the time were Corey Perry who won the memorial cup in 2005 with the London Knights, Ryan Getzlaf played for the Calgary Hitmen, Dionne Phaneuf played for the Red Deer Rebels and the list goes on.
Now, times are different, more high drafted players go to the AHL or even the NHL when they are 18. Still most spend 1 to 2 years in junior, then another season in the AHL and to the NHL after that. Just recently the Buffalo Sabres and the Philedelphia Flyers have loaned a boat full of young players in their early 20’s to their respective AHL affiliates. That list includes 2011 AHL MVP Luke Adam who played with the Sabres just this past season and Marcus Foligno who is NHL ready will go back to the Rochester Americans with Adam. The Flyers AHL affiliate, The Adirondack Phantoms will now have a big boost with Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and Sean Couturier. Other NHL teams are expected to follow suit with sending young talent to the “A”.
Some of the players that could go back to the AHL after a great NHL season are Adam Henrique who got 51 points with the New Jersey Devils last season, Calder Cup champion Gabriel Landeskog and even Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers could be assigned to the “A”.
A couple of the recently drafted 18 year olds at the 2012 draft could go straight to their AHL teams to get started on their pro career’s and that includes Alex Galchenyuk who just received an entry-level deal with the Montreal Canadiens and maybe even Nail Yakupov or Ryan Murray but thats doubtful.
If you noticed anything its that the AHL could be one big star studded minor league and all thanks to the descension between the NHL owners and the NHL players association. If I am going to watch some entertaining hockey, it”ll definitely be the “A”. Watch this trend of NHL teams sending top young guns to the farm over a short period of time.
The average ticket price to an AHL game will most likely go up, and will most likely go up significantly if there is still a lockout by Christmas time. Tickets on a struggling farm team can start from around $12 to $15 while top end popular teams like the Abbotsford Heat or Rochester Americans can see ticket prices go up to $30 to $35. The average ticket price for every team could go between $30 to $50 a game if the lockout prolongs much longer than fans anticipate but the major difference with these teams making more money will be by far attendance. On a busy night in the NHL, their farm teams would be less than desirably busy, on some nights the arena looks like a deadzone and all you can hear is players calling out for a pass or the boards shaking from hard hitting checks by other players instead of a loud crowd cheering.