Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was selected eighth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. Ristolainen was one of two first round picks the Sabres had in 2013. (courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres' horrendous start to the 2013-14 season was the clear signal that the team needed to make drastic changes. Ted Nolan replaced Ron Rolston as head coach early in the season, and Darcy Regier was fired after 16 years with the team after a few disappointing seasons and a spotty draft record.
Photo: Defenseman Nitkita Zadorov had a strong postseason for the London Knights, managing four goals and five assists in nine playoff games. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
The parent club was in shambles for much of the 2013-14 season, but the plight of the Buffalo Sabres did not adversely affect the development of their deep pool of prospects. Though the Rochester Americans felt the effects of Buffalo's roster shuffle throughout the season, the organization's prospects at the junior and amateur levels performed well, with the majority of them qualifying for the playoffs in their respective leagues.
Photo: Forward Nick Baptiste was one among the Buffalo Sabres’ most improved prospects in 2013-14. Baptiste managed 89 points in 65 OHL games this past season, more than his previous two junior seasons combined. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
If the decline of the Buffalo Sabres had to reach its darkest depths before progressing upwards, the 2013-14 season was certainly the franchise's lowest point. At various points throughout the season, the team was in a state of flux, either in the front office, behind the bench, or on the ice.
Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen leads a deep group of Buffalo Sabres prospects (courtesy of Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hockey's Future presents the top group of the 2014 Spring NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked by the overall quality of their prospect pool as voted on by the HF staff. For reference, the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall rankings. Each team's Fall ranking is listed in parenthesis next to their current ranking.
Photo: Union College defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere raised his stock dramatically in 2013-14 with a superb regular season and dominant playoff run for the National Champions (courtesy of Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
Welcome to the April 2014 edition of On the Rush. With the postseason underway, this will be the final column for the 2013-14 season. As such, this edition will focus on prospects at various levels of competition who exceeded expectations or fell behind a bit over the course of the entire season.