The American Hockey League is a training ground for future stars, but the amount of young talent available to AHL clubs when the league begins play this weekend has expanded because of the NHL lockout.
Not only will there be players who have had NHL success, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but many of the top prospects for the 30 NHL clubs will be playing for their AHL affiliates when the regular season opens Friday.
Several top prospects will be making their professional debuts, while a handful of European phenoms will get their first taste of pro hockey on the smaller North American rinks.
Here's a look at some of the prospects who will make their North American professional debuts. There are plenty of other exciting young talents who already have made cameos in the AHL or NHL who will be playing this weekend, and a list of those players can be found here.