The NHL lockout is just over two weeks old. Training camps have been cancelled, the preseason nixed. If the owners and Players' Association can't come to an agreement very soon, the regular season will begin to lose games as well.
Because of all this uncertainty, many players already have jumped ship to go play in Europe. Many young players with the ability to play in the American Hockey League have been sent to minor league training camp, as the NHL lockout won't affect this league. That means competition could be stronger than ever there, as the AHL becomes NHL lite.
That being said, which players from New York-area teams have gone to play overseas and which younger players (with the most recognizable names) are heading to the AHL? All players who have gone to Europe have opt-out clauses to return to the NHL, if/when there is a deal.
Let's break it down so you know what some of your favorites are up to.
Rick Nash: The decision to bolt the States for Europe was met with some scorn from fans because most of the Rangers have decided to stay in New York for now to work out together. Nash made his move for HC Davos in Switzerland very early. In three games, he has three goals, which shouldn't be all that surprising in a weaker league. He dodged a bullet in the last game he played, though, being removed early for what was a shoulder bruise. Some feared much worse.
Carl Hagelin: The speedster was born in Sweden, so it's not surprising that within the past few days he's decided to head to Sodertalje SK, his hometown team. He will depart for Sweden next week. He had 24 goals and 31 assists in 40 games there in 2006-07, the last season before he headed to the University of Michigan.
Chris Kreider: Kreider is still a very green NHL player, despite his great showing in 18 games of the playoffs. Because he's still eligible to play in the AHL, he'll bide his time there until an agreement is reached. It can't necessarily be a bad thing for his development, especially because the level of talent in the league has increased so much.
Ilya Kovalchuk: It's no surprise at all that the Devils' sniper went to play in Russia for SKA St. Petersburg right away. So many Russian players departed as soon as the lockout was beginning. This was the same team that tried to lure him when he was a restricted free agent in 2010. He played for AK Bars Kazan during the 2004-05 lockout, recording 19 goals and 41 points.
Adam Henrique: One of the NHL's top rookies last year, Henrique was sent the the AHL. It's another team using their ability to assign a young player to the AHL to keep him playing, instead of sitting at home.
Adam Larsson: The defenseman played in 65 games (plus only once in the playoffs) last year, but he's still just 19 and often seemed overwhelmed. The AHL time should be beneficial for the Swede as he continues to adjust to the North American game.
John Tavares: The 22-year-old just enjoyed an 81-point campaign, and it's clear that for many, life is boring without action. He's heading to Bern in Switzerland, joining his teammate Mark Streit. He has yet to play a game, but Tavares should light it up there.
Mark Streit: Bern is Streit's hometown team, so it's not a shocker he decided to play here during the work stoppage. He's played in two games, notching an assist and four penalty minutes.
Lubomir Visnovsky: The defenseman has yet to play a shift for the Islanders since being acquired in the offseason, and that'll be delayed even more now. He inked a deal in the Kontinental Hockey League with HC Slovan Bratisalava. In three games, he already has two points.
Travis Hamonic: The 2008 second-round pick had 24 points and a team-high plus-6 rating in his first full season. He also had 175 hits and 157 blocked shots. The promising shutdown blueliner will be able to hone his game in the AHL.
Nino Niederreiter: This seems like a case where, if Niederreiter wasn't eligible to be assigned to the AHL, he'd perhaps entertain playing in his native Switzerland. At least now he can stick with the organization in the AHL. He had a tough time last season, scoring just once in 55 games, so this AHL time (where he spent six games last year) could be very valuable for him.