There will be no shortage of replacement players for NHL teams to choose from next season.
Former 67's star Peter Lee, GM of the German Elite League's Berlin Eisbaeren, told the Sun yesterday that "there are 800 players" in North America who are resisting moving to Europe until the NHL situation is settled.
With NHL CBA talks moving slowly and the chance of replacement players a strong possibility, Lee said top prospects in the AHL aren't accepting contracts in Europe.
"Usually, at this time, we would have no problem signing those guys," said Lee, a former Penguins centre who spent most of his career in Germany. "Right now, all these guys want to wait to see what happens.
"They either think they're going to get the chance to play as replacement players or they're going to have a chance to beat out a third- or fourth- line player who hasn't been on the ice all year because they'll be in better shape. What we're trying to do over here is keep the players we've got because it looks like it's going to be tough to sign new players."
Lee said he can understand why players who have good years in the AHL want to wait.
"I know that for a lot of these guys it's a dream to play in the NHL. They look at the chance to be a replacement player as their opportunity to play in the league and they don't want to give that up," said Lee.
NORTH AMERICAN 'DREAM'
"The NHL is what we dream about as kids growing up in North America. In some cases, I'm sure guys are thinking they can benefit from playing in the AHL this season to get a job.
"Look at a guy like (Senators centre) Todd White. Can he really afford to miss a year of hockey? I don't think any player in his position can. I'm sure there's a guy in the AHL who has played all year who thinks he can beat out a guy like White for a job at a lot less money."