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: Chicago’s selection of Ryan Hartman at 30th overall in 2013 added a hard-working complementary forward to the team’s shallow pool of wingers in the system (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks will head into the 2014 NHL Draft with eight picks and another opportunity to augment the depth and versatility in the pipeline.
Photo: Frolunda defenseman and Dallas Stars prospect John Klingberg has gotten a small taste of North American hockey the past couple of seasons, but will move to North America for the 2014-15 season (courtesy of Andrew Dieb/Icon SMI)
As the 2014 NHL Draft approaches, it is important to take note that the NHL is currently chock full of players hailing from Sweden. In particular, it would have been difficult to find many NHL rosters that lacked a Swede patrolling the blueline this past season.
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.