Justin K. Aller
Can the lockout be a good thing for a handful of NHL teams?
Though the howling throngs on Twitter boisterously disagree, the NHL lockout isn't bad for everyone. In fact, there are a number of teams and players that are going to benefit from the extended vacation. While the benefit isn't directly measurable (except in Edmonton), the teams set to benefit the most include:
Edmonton Oilers - I've talked about this before, but for Steve Tambellini, the lockout was like a Coke bottle dropped by an airplane passing overhead. No man benefits as much from the full-season lockout and no team benefits as much as the Edmonton Oilers.
Florida Panthers - The Panthers have a whole slew of overpaid players on the payroll, but they've all got long term contracts. The Panthers benefit because their core of young prospects moves closer to NHL-ready. Prospects like Jonathan Huberdeau, Jacob Markstrom, Colby Robak, John McFarland, Alex Petrovic, Vincent Trochek, and Drew Shore are one step closer to saving the Panthers from Dale Tallon's contract craziness.
Toronto Maple Leafs - The Maple Leafs desperate need an infusion of talent to help a very bland roster and they've got a bunch of it coming up through the system, though most of those players aren't ready yet. However, given another year in the minors or juniors, guys like Morgan Rielly, Joe Colborne, and Matt Finn are closer to making an impact. The lockout also gives Jake Gardiner another year to grow into his game and allows Nazem Kadri time to develop without the constant questions about his readiness echoing throughout GTA. Those five are a very nice foundation to build from. If the Leafs get lucky and one of their next tier of defensive prospects (Jesse Blacker, Stuart Percy and Korbinian Holzer) and offensive prospects (Greg McKegg, Carter Ashton, Jerry D'Amigo, and Tyler Biggs) takes a step forward, the Leafs could finally be a real NHL team again, provided Brian Burke leaves well enough alone.