With the National Hockey League locking out the players as a result of no new collective bargaining agreement, there is no NHL hockey on the foreseeable horizon. There won't be any until the league and the player's association agrees to a new one. As a result, we're forced to wait until then and the players will have to find something else to do. Fortunately, most of the players will do what they've been doing their whole careers and play hockey.
As Tom Gulitti pointed out very early on Sunday morning, players are allowed to play elsewhere while locked out. After all, only the NHL has locked out their players. European leagues, junior leagues, college leagues, and minor leagues will still go on. In fact, the NHL clubs made a point of it to put some of their players and assign many more to their American Hockey League affiliates. Hockey itself isn't stalled by the NHL lockout; it's there if you're willing to search.
The New Jersey Devils are no different from the other NHL teams. Many of the younger and fringe players have been sent down to Albany and a few of the veterans may be heading overseas. Therefore, we'll be following what they're all doing on a more regular basis as the lockout continues here at In Lou We Trust. If you want to know where the Devils prospects and players are as of this writing and some tips on how to actually watch them do what they do, then please continue on after the jump.
The American Hockey League - Albany Devils
NJ Devils to Watch: Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Adam Larsson, Mattias Tedenby, Bobby Butler
Prospects of Note: Eric Gelinas, Alexander Urbom, Scott Wedgewood, Keith Kinkaid, Maxime Clermont, Brandon Burlon, David Wohlberg, Harri Peosnen.
The List of Everyone Assigned to Albany: Here's a list of all 24 players sent down to Albany according to the New Jersey Devils' official website.
How to Legally Follow the Albany Devils: If you're local to the area, you really should consider going to some games in Albany at the Times Union Center. Or check them out when they visit Atlantic City for four games at Boardwalk Hall: 11/25 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton; 1/13 vs. Bridgeport; 1/20 vs. Adirondack; 2/24 vs. Hershey.
I'm not too sure who does local TV broadcasts; but Albany games are available online through AHL Live. Video of the games aren't free; though audio broadcasts are free (and handled by 104.5 FM WTMM, "The Team" ESPN Radio). However, if my memory serves, the service for the whole season may be more expensive than NHL Gamecenter. The service will become available on October 7, so I'm sure pricing and subscribing information will come out then. You can pay to watch single games in the archives in the meantime.
In terms of news, you should become familiar with the Albany Times Union and it's blog Hockey Spoken Here by Pete Doughtery as well as Bill Cain's H-E-Doublehockeysticks over at the Schenectady Daily Gazette.
The ECHL - ????
The Kalamazoo Wings have an exclusive affiliation with Vancouver now. As of this writing, the Devils don't appear to have an ECHL affiliate. With 24 players sent down to Albany in addition to the players they already have, those players will need some place to play. Bakersfield, Alaska, and Las Vegas are all independent right now and there is the possibility of dual affiliation with another team. Hopefully as the AHL training camp begins, this will be resolved.
The KHL - Zharkov, Kovalchuk, and Maybe More?
NJ Devils to Watch: As reported by Rich Chere on July 3, Vladimir Zharkov signed a two-year deal to play for CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League this summer. New Jersey did tender Zharkov with a qualifying offer, so they retain his rights and is technically still a Devil. Dmitry Chesnokov tweeted on Sunday morning that Ilya Kovalchuk will sign with SKA St. Petersburg on September 19.
It's unknown how many players will go all the way to the KHL since it's unknown even to the players how long this lockout will go. Earlier last week, the KHL announced their rules for signing locked out NHL players. According to this article by Mike Brehm at USA Today, KHL teams can sign up to three NHL players for up to 65% of their NHL salary. Of course, once the lock out ends, those affected players are free to leave their KHL teams. So Kovalchuk can go back; but Zharkov can't since he wasn't locked out. Russian teams (20 of the 26 KHL teams) will be limited to only one foreign player subject to various restrictions.
How to Legally Follow the KHL: Well, I hope you know Russian as I can't seem to locate anything regarding English-speaking broadcasts. The KHL website appears to have games available, and not for free, though I'm not sure where that can be accessed. They do put up game highlight videos not only their website but also on their official Youtube channel, so you aren't completely without video. Other than that, check for Russian broadcast channels on satellite?
Canadian Junior Leagues - WHL, OHL, QMJHL, BCHL
NJ Devils Prospects in These Leagues: If you want to see the youngsters in action, then here's the list by league:
Western Hockey League - Reece Scarlett (Swift Current), Graham Black (Swift Current), Damon Severson (Kelowna)
Ontario Hockey League - Reid Boucher (Sarnia), Artur Gavrus (Owen Sound), Ben Thomson (Kitchener), Ben Johnson (Windsor)
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - Stefan Matteau (Blainville-Boisbriand)
British Columbia Hockey League (Junior A) - Alexander Kerfoot (Coquitlam)
How to Legally Follow these Players: Other than local broadcasts, there are online options to check out these leagues. The QMJHL has a service with TELUS. If you are already a subscriber in the area, you may be able to get them for free. Otherwise, you can sign up for the whole season, one team for a season, or even a single game. The Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League has streaming video through Neulion (like the NHL and AHL) and they have more paid viewing options. With each, you can subscribe for a full season, one team for a season, or away games only for one team. You can also get a single game or a package of them too. For those of you who really want to see Kerfoot or what Junior A hockey league looks like, you can sign up for FASTHockey and purchase credits to view BCHL or other youth hockey leagues (including the local EJHL!).
NCAA - CCHA & WCHA
NJ Devils Prospects in these Leagues: The Devils have eight prospects in college, and the seven in Division I are split among the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the Western College Hockey Association. Here's the names:
CCHA - Jon Merrill (Michigan), Blake Coleman (Miami), Curtis Gedig (Ohio State)
WCHA - Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech), Derek Rodwell (North Dakota), Seth Helgeson (Minnesota), Joe Faust (Wisconsin)
The eighth prospect is defenseman Patrick Daly, who left Wisconsin last year and has resurfaced with Division III St. Thomas according to Andy Johnson of Bucky's 5th Quarter.
How to Legally Follow These Players: The good news for the U.S. college hockey fan is that the NBC Sports Network increased the number of broadcasts of NCAA hockey for 2012-13. Steve Lepore has the full schedule here. The bad news is that it is mostly among teams in the East, Nebraska-Omaha, and Denver. So the only Devils prospects who will get national coverage outside of the Frozen Four will be Derek Rodwell, with two nationally televised games for North Dakota, and Joe Faust, with two nationally televised games for Wisconsin. So if all you get is NBC-SN, then, well, enjoy the other games without Devils prospects in it. All is not lost. Many college hockey games are aired on local and regional channels. The USCHO website maintains a good list of who's airing what and where. The college hockey season won't begin for quite some time, so those regional/local television schedules aren't ready yet.
For additional coverage of these teams and players, you may want to check some of the blogs out there. Here at SB Nation, Bucky's 5th Quarter is a good place as any for Wisconsin hockey; The Daily Gopher follows Minnesota hockey as well as hoops and football; and Western College Hockey Blog is a good place for, well, everything in the Western colleges. The colossus that is mgoblog covers hockey for Michigan, as does Michigan Hockey Net and The Blog That Yost Built. As for the rest, Redskin Warriors focuses on the Miami Redhawks' hockey team; Brad Elliot Schlossman covers North Dakota; and Deadly Nuts is all about Ohio State. Of course, Inside College Hockey, College Hockey News, and USCHO are must-reads for any NCAA hockey fan.
As far as I know, there aren't any other Devils players or prospects going to play elsewhere at this time. I'll update this list accordingly if or when any news of the sort comes out. It's disappointing that the NHL has locked out the players and has put the 2012-13 season in doubt. However, if you're interested in following the prospects, the younger Devils, or even just Kovalchuk, then there are ways to follow them and enjoy the sport.
Please feel free to provide any other information on how to legally follow these teams and leagues. I tried to be as comprehensive as I could, but if I missed anything or got something wrong, let me know in the comments and I'll update the post accordingly. Please feel free to give your other thoughts on where these players are playing and what you expect from them. Thank you for reading.