Photo: Plymouth Whalers goaltender and former Belle Tire player Alex Nedeljkovic was chosen in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes (courtesy of Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
It's no secret that youth hockey in the United States has made great strides the past few decades.
Players from more geographical locations continue to appear on the rosters of major junior teams in Canada, as well as USHL and NAHL clubs in the U.S. The National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, MI and the squads at the northeastern private schools and NCAA college teams also have more American players than ever.
Photo: Defenseman Aaron Ekblad (left) and forwards Sam Reinhart (center) and Sam Bennett (right) will learn where they begin their professional careers at the 2014 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images and Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Now that the Los Angeles Kings have hoisted their second Stanley Cup in three years, the hockey world can now focus on the 2014 NHL Draft that will take place on June 27th and 28th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Forward Elias Lindholm was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes fifth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
It is a new era in Carolina. The only general manager the team has known since its move to Raleigh, Jim Rutherford, retired then later surprisingly took the same job with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford's heir apparent, former captain Ron Francis, has taken the reins and is charged with overseeing the Hurricanes' draft.
Photo: Goaltender Daniel Altshuller had a strong playoff run with the Oshawa Generals, posting a 1.89 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Carolina Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season, and both their minor league affiliates – the AHL's Charlotte Checkers and the ECHL's Florida Everblades – also came up short in reaching the postseason.
Photo: Forward Linden Vey is one of several Los Angeles Kings prospects to make his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season. Vey appeared in 18 games for the Kings. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
Below is the 21-30 segment of the Hockey's Future 2014 Spring NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by members of the HF staff. 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. For reference, each team's previous rank is listed in parenthesis.