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: Winger Remi Elie was traded from London to Belleville early in the 2013-14 season. The Stars’ 40th overall selection in 2013 was a point-per-game player following the trade (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
One might argue that this group is a year ahead of schedule. A not-yet-fully-formed Dallas Stars team, with a defense that is in transition, ended up making the postseason and taking a strong Ducks team to the bitter end of game six.
Photo: Texas Stars rookie forward and Dallas Stars prospect Brett Ritchie had a productive postseason for the Calder Cup champion Stars, posting seven goals and four assists in 13 playoff games (courtesy of John Rivera/Icon SMI)
The American Hockey League concluded its 2013-14 season Tuesday night as the Texas Stars defeated the St. John’s IceCaps in overtime for the third straight game of the Calder Cup finals, claiming the championship in five games – the AHL Stars’ first Calder Cup Championship in franchise history.
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.