I have embraced the fact that a lockout is possible. Until this point, I was being an optimist, but as every day goes by, it becomes more and more likely that the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the NHL will not be playing hockey in the NHL.
As any good fan would wonder, what will my favorite players do with the extra time off? Spend some more downtime with the family and friends? Hit up Vegas? Or perhaps play hockey elsewhere? No official plans have been made, but players are most likely starting to think about making a buck overseas in a European league. Check it out after the jump.
The Copper and Blue had a post in 2010 of league rankings other than the NHL. I'm not sure what goes into the rankings, but it gives you a sense of which leagues are closer in skill to the NHL. If you don't trust those rankings, check out the Wikipedia Article that covers the leagues that made the Champions Hockey League.
So, there is essentially three types of players who will go to Europe and play. The first are the European players who will go back and play in a league in their native country. The second is the North American that will go play wherever they have ties in Europe. The third are the players who will go to the highest paying team because they can. So, Where will the Devils players go?
The Devils roster currently shows a mix of nationalities on the team including 7 Canadians, 6 Americans, 3 Czechs, 4 Swedes, 2 Russians, and a lonely Lithuanian.
First off, I would bet that Kovalchuk and Volchenkov would go home to the KHL. Elias, Zidlicky, and Sykora will likely go home to the Czech Extraliga. Finally, I would assume for the four Swedes choose to play in the Elirserien (Swedish Professional League). As for Dainius Zubrus, I'm not quite sure where he would play since Lithuania does not have a good professional league.. Just for fun, I would speculate that he plays in either the KHL or the Czech Extraliga.
The North Americans
Since the NHL is the professional league of North America, there is not much for options left in America and Canada. There is the AHL or maybe the ECHL for some of the younger players. Other than that, it would be very odd to have a lot of the established NHLers in those leagues.
If they head to Europe, I can see the North American players likely going where their European friends go. This would make the transition easier and help those players situate to living abroad. Another option I see is that the players will go where they believe they can make the most money. Finally, if they aren't in it for the money or the company, they probably want to win. Therefore, these players will join the most competitive leagues. I believe these leagues are the KHL, the Swedish Elitserien league
Where do you see the Devils players heading? Could there possibly be NHLPA organized exhibitions? Will the KHL gain in dominance? Will there even be a lockout? Speculate below!