Photo: Forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov is widely considered to be the top young hockey player not playing in North America. Kuznetsov is currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. (courtesy of Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)
With every regular season in hockey finished, it is once again time to select the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Year. Though there were many fantastic performances outside of the NHL, none were quite as good as Yevgeni Kuznetsov (WAS), who this season further cemented himself as the best hockey player not currently in North America.
Photo: Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau finished the 2012-13 season tied for the lead among NHL rookies with 31 points (courtesy of Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Hockey's Future presents the top grouping of the Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
Photo: Rookie winger Jaden Schwartz played a prominent role in Peoria during the NHL lockout, but since the start of the Blues season, he has skated in a bottom-six role in St. Louis (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
The St. Louis Blues have found a way to be successful at the NHL level and still maintain a very deep prospect pool. With draft selections primarily out of the top ten picks, the Blues have drafted extremely well to maintain a talented group of players at all positions.
Photo: Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues' fourth overall pick in 2008, has developed into the team's top blueliner, leading the team with over 25 minutes of ice time per game this season. (courtesy of Scott Kane/Icon SMI)
While some teams experience a lack of draft picks, or reliable prospects, the St. Louis Blues had an abundance of both in 2008. Headlining the list of 2008 draft picks was Alex Pietrangelo, a soon-to-be superstar in the NHL. Along with Pietrangelo, nine other selections were made by the Blues in 2008.
Photo: Defenseman Mark Cundari, signed as a free agent by the Blues in 2010, ranks fourth overall on the Peoria Rivermen with 20 points this season. (courtesy of Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
With immense depth at the NHL, junior and European levels of hockey, it should come as no surprise that the St. Louis Blues are lacking offensively-dominant players at the AHL and ECHL levels. Jaden Schwartz has been called-up to the big club, while Vladimir Tarasenko has finally come over from Europe. As more talented prospects make their way to the big club, the AHL affiliate Peoria Rivermen has started to struggle as a result.