Near the end of the NHL regular season, the airways between Milwaukee and Nashville were full of hockey players on commercial jets.

With all the injuries the Predators sustained, many players from their American Hockey League affiliate logged significant minutes in a Nashville uniform.

The Predators, meanwhile, saw that a few of their minor league players could very well be ready to take the next step and play at the NHL level for the entire 2013-14 season.

“It certainly opened the door for opportunities,” Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton said.

Eight players with the Admirals when the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season started were called up to the Predators during the 48-game schedule. Forwards Taylor Beck and Austin Watson and defenseman Victor Bartley displayed potential to begin next season with Nashville.

Of the three, Bartley was probably the most impressive. An AHL All-Star this year, Bartley, 25, found chemistry on Nashville’s second defense pair with veteran Kevin Klein. He had seven assists in 24 games and averaged 19:33 of ice time per game.

Nashville signed Bartley in May of 2011 out of the Allsvenskan — Sweden’s second division. He had previously played in the AHL and East Coast Hockey League.

With the Admirals, the undrafted Bartley turned into a leader and a top blueliner during the 2011-12 season and the early part of this year.

When he cemented himself in Nashville’s lineup in mid-March, he jumped over defensemen Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis — both recent first round draft choices — on the depth chart. Blum was put on the third defensive pair. Ellis was sent back to Milwaukee to finish the season.

“He can give you power-play minutes if need-be. He kills penalties. He’s a big guy and in very good shape,” Admirals coach Dean Evason said of Bartley. “He’s just a real, real solid two-way guy who is that type of guy who could be in the league for a very long time.”

Beck also played himself into a regular role with Nashville in the final two months. Working on the first line, he notched three goals and four assists in 16 games. He put up 41 points in 50 games with the Admirals.