AHL Schedule 2012-13 To Be Released Friday; NHL Lockout Could Flood League With Talent

June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on stage at the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The NHL is in danger of yet another lockout, but the AHL is prepared to keep going as planned, and could serve as a haven for younger NHL talent without a place to play.

Just eight years after the NHL lost its 2004-05 season, the NHL is in danger of yet another labor dispute. That's bad news for NHL fans, but possibly the best thing that could happen for the minor-league AHL, who might see an influx of younger NHL players looking for ice time. The 30-team league releases its schedule today.

The AHL saw major attendance boosts across the board in 2004-05 without the NHL operating as players such as Jason Spezza - who won the league scoring title and MVP award - flocked to the league. Obviously, nobody wants a lockout - especially not fringe minor-league players - but the AHL is more than prepared to step in should the highest tier of hockey not start as scheduled.

Players on two-way contracts would play in the AHL, as well as other players under the age of 22, who were considered AHL-eligible during the 2004-05 lockout. Over 88 percent of NHL players have passed through the AHL at some point or another.

For more on the NHL lockout, check this Storystream, as well as SBN's dedicated NHL hub.

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