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Minnesota Wild 2014 NHL Draft preview

by Peter Prohaska
on

Kurtis Gabriel - Owen Sound Attack

Photo: Kurtis Gabriel, Minnesota’s 81st overall pick in 2013, scored four points in his eight-game pro debut following a productive over-age season with Owen Sound (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Five years ago, Chuck Fletcher and his staff took over a Minnesota Wild system that severely lacked upside. The draft record of the club throughout the mid-2000s was middling despite some later round picks that worked out, mostly due to a series of underwhelming first round selections.

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2014 NHL Combine Video: Kasperi Kapanen, KalPa Kuopio

by Ken McKenna
on

2014 NHL Combine - Kasperi Kapanen - KalPa Kuopio

Photo: KalPa Kuopio forward and 2014 prospect Kasperi Kapanen is ranked 13th overall by ISS Hockey in their final rankings for the 2014 NHL Draft (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

Whether looking at the top 2014 prospects from North America or Europe, NHL bloodlines run strong among several of those high-end players available for this year's NHL Draft. It is especially strong in the European contingent as the top two Euro prospects according to NHL Central Scouting – Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander – both have fathers that turned in lengthy and successful careers in hockey's top league.

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System depth and versatility apparent in Chicago Blackhawks prospect awards

by Brad Gardner
on

John Hayden - Yale University Bulldogs

Photo: Yale forward John Hayden, #21 right, got off to a slow start in 2013-14, but doubled his freshman year point total with eight points in the final nine games of the season (courtesy of Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks had several prospects make an impact at the NHL level in 2013-14. Those players, along with others that stood out in the CHL, NCAA, and international levels, are featured below in this season’s prospect awards.

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Toronto Maple Leafs AHL and CHL prospects flourished in the 2013-14 playoffs

by Ed Dermit
on

Sam Carrick - Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo: Forward Sam Carrick was a big part of the Toronto Marlies postseason success in 2014, posting five goals and four assists in 14 games. (courtesy of John Rivera/Icon SMI)

While the Toronto Maple Leafs may have underachieved by not making the NHL playoffs in 2013-14 season, their AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies, completed a deep run in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. In addition, all seven of their CHL prospects made it to their respective league playoffs, including three who went on to play in the 2014 Memorial Cup.

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2014 NHL Combine Video: Sam Bennett, Kingston Frontenacs

by Ken McKenna
on

2014 NHL Combine - Sam Bennett - Kingston Frontenacs

Photo: Kingston Frontenacs center and 2014 prospect Sam Bennett, shown here taking part in the 2014 NHL Combine, is ranked fourth overall for the 2014 NHL Draft by ISS Hockey (courtesy of Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

There is varied opinions as to which player is the top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft. Some NHL scouts feel that Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad is the top player by a tiny margin, while the independent scouting service ISS Hockey ranked Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart as their top prospect. But NHL Central Scouting hasn't wavered in their belief that Kingston Frontenacs center Sam Bennett is the best of this year's crop.

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Colorado Avalanche 2014 NHL Draft preview

by Chau Vo
on
Spencer Martin - Mississauga Steelheads

Photo: Goaltender Spencer Martin, selected 63rd overall in 2013, played the most minutes in the OHL in 2013-14 with 64 appearances for the Mississauga Steelheads (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

 
The rejuvenated Colorado Avalanche franchise took the NHL by surprise this past season and defied all expectations by finishing at the top of the Western Conference’s tough Central Division.

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Tampa Bay Lightning prospect pool had many standout playoff performances in 2014

by Chris Roberts
on

Cedric Paquette - Tampa Bay Lightning

Photo: Forward Cedric Paquette was one of several young Tampa Bay Lightning players who made their NHL Playoff debut in 2014. Paquette was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

As has been the case for the past few seasons now, the Tampa Bay Lightning had some breakthrough performances from prospects this year. Many of those strong performances carried over into the postseason, with several prospects positioning themselves well for the future.

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2014 NHL Combine Video: Brendan Lemieux, Barrie Colts

by Ken McKenna
on

2014 NHL Combine - Brendan Lemieux - Barrie Colts

Photo: Barrie Colts forward and 2014 prospect Brendan Lemieux, shown here during the testing portion of the 2014 NHL Combine, is ranked 28th among North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft by Central Scouting (courtesy of Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

With a father that is a four-time Stanley Cup winner, Barrie Colts left wing Brendan Lemieux certainly has a tough act to follow as he pursues his NHL dream. Lemieux's first step towards filling those big skates comes at the end of June when his name is likely to be called at the 2014 NHL Draft.

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Several Montreal Canadiens prospects enjoyed long and productive postseasons

by David Thicke
on

Dustin Tokarski - Montreal Canadiens

Photo: Goaltender Dustin Tokarski made his NHL playoff debut on May 19th, 2014, starting in place for an injured Carey Price. Though the Canadiens lost in six to the New York Rangers, Tokarski was solid, managing a 2-3 record and a 2.60 goals against average. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the Hamilton Bulldogs failing to capture an AHL playoff spot, the Montreal Canadiens recalled a large group of prospects, including Nathan Beaulieu and Dustin Tokarski, as the Black Aces practice squad. Michael Bournival and Jarred Tinordi were already playing at the NHL level at the end of the NHL regular season and were part of Montreal's playoff roster.  

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