Photo: KalPa Kuopio forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Artturi Lehkonen played on Finland’s top line at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Like Sweden's SHL and the Czech and Slovak Extraligas, Finland's Liiga has been hit hard by the defection of top young players to the KHL for bigger contracts.
Photo: Severstal Cherepovets forward and New York Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich was a scoring star for Russia’s bronze medal-winning squad at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)
In spite of the bad performance at the recent Winter Olympics, Russia keeps on producing good players at a good rate, as confirmed by the recent good showing of the WJC squad.
Photo: HPK Hameenlinna goaltender and Nashville Predators prospect Juuse Saros turned in a stellar performance at the 2014 World Junior Championship, helping to lead Finland to their first gold medal at the U20 WJC since 1998 (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
No country has had as much success developing goaltenders in recent years as Finland.
But with 14 Finland-trained goalies playing in North America and another nine playing in Europe in either the KHL or in Sweden's SHL, the number of drafted prospects playing in Finland's Liiga has dwindled to just five.
Photo: Rockford IceHogs forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Jeremy Morin has spent most of the season with the AHL’s IceHogs, but has appeared in 15 games for the Blackhawks in the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Chris Austin/Icon SMI)
While the top nine teams in the East have separated themselves from the pack, the AHL's Western Conference is still wide open heading down the stretch.
Photo: Sault Ste. Marie captain Darnell Nurse ranks fourth among OHL blueliners with 48 points in 58 games (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
In this spring update, the Oilers’ Top 20 rankings saw the graduations of Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, leaving future franchise defenseman Darnell Nurse to lead the charge.