Photo: Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis had a strong rookie season in the AHL, winning 18 of 35 starts while posting a 2.68 goals against average. Gudlevkis also represented Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympics. (courtesy of Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have steadily built a strong group of prospects since the arrival of general manager Steve Yzerman in 2010. This season, their patience paid dividends as they made a surprising playoff appearance. Several prospects – Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio – made key contributions and earned regular NHL roles.
Photo: University of Minnesota backstop Adam Wilcox, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, and the Gophers hold the top spot in the Big Ten going into the final weeks of the NCAA regular season (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Welcome to the February 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
Photo: Selected third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, forward Jonathan Drouin has established himself as one of the top offensive forwards in junior hockey. The 18-year-old forward currently has 78 points through 37 games in the QMJHL. (courtesy of Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
While the top of the Tampa Bay Lightning's Top 20 prospects remains unchanged from the beginning of the 2013-14 season, there has both plenty of movement and fresh faces beyond top prospects Jonathan Drouin and Andrey Vasilevskiy.
Photo: Forward Vladislav Namestnikov is amidst a breakout season for the Syracuse Crunch, with 28 points through 24 AHL games. (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
On the outside of the AHL playoff picture as of mid-January, things do not look like they will get any easier for the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thanks in large part to Steven Stamkos' broken leg, among other injuries, a number of Crunch players have been summoned for short term replacement.
Photo: Finnish forward Henri Ikonen is in the midst of a breakout season with the Kingston Frontenacs. The 19-year-old has 11 goals and 24 assists through 22 games. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
In recent years the Tampa Bay Lightning have shown a willingness to select players from a variety of leagues. Their prospect pool consists of a group of talented Europeans, intriguing NCAA players, and – because most of their recent CHL selections have turned pro – just six players playing junior hockey.