Photo: Buffalo Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko might be on the cusp of a NHL career, but he and other young players may find themselves back in the development leagues if the NHL lockout proceeds (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Lockout. It's on the tip of the tongue of every person involved with hockey right now.
As the Collective Bargaining Agreement's expiration date of September 15th approaches, a work stoppage between the NHL and the NHL Player's Association (the third such interruption over the last 18 years) is seemingly inevitable at this point. Not only will a lockout affect the individual teams and their staff and personnel, as well as the players, but a work stoppage in hockey's top league will have a trickle down effect for many prospects at various levels around the world.
Photo: San Jose Sharks defenseman and University of Massachusetts alum Justin Braun is the first of a recent group of that school's alums to make it to the NHL (courtesy of Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Casey Wellman has been with three organizations since turning pro during the 2009-10 season, but this season could mark his best chance to become an NHL regular.
Photo: Though he started the 2011-12 season in the AHL, two-way winger Carl Hagelin finished it in the NHL on a line with stars Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The New York Rangers' prospects had an excellent season, as the fruits of the changes in drafting philosophy continue to bear fruit. The awards include three first round selections and two picks from the 2011 entry draft.
Photo: Tomas Jurco is among the few Red Wings prospects to see an extensive post-season. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Success in Hockeytown is measured in Stanley Cups, but unfortunately, the Detroit Red Wings and their local affiliates came up well short of their intended goals this past season. The Red Wings made the playoffs but failed to advance past the division rival Nashville Predators in the first round. The AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins missed the playoffs altogether. They won just three of their final 10 games down the stretch and missed the playoffs by nine points. At the ECHL level, the Toledo Walleye posted the third-worst record in the league as they were unable to clinch a postseason berth for the second straight season. It was a disappointing spring for most Red Wings prospects abroad as well, though there were several notable exceptions.
Photo: Finishing the season with an OHL championship and an appearance at the Memorial Cup, defenseman Scott Harrington easily saw the most post-season success of any Penguin prospect. (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
Only two years ago an extended run in the NHL post-season was a seeming right of passage for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and their rabid fanbase. But after two consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, the Penguins have experienced dramatic early post-season upsets, the first in 2011 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and most recently in 2012 to the Philadelphia Flyers.