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: Kurtis Gabriel, Minnesota’s 81st overall pick in 2013, scored four points in his eight-game pro debut following a productive over-age season with Owen Sound (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Five years ago, Chuck Fletcher and his staff took over a Minnesota Wild system that severely lacked upside. The draft record of the club throughout the mid-2000s was middling despite some later round picks that worked out, mostly due to a series of underwhelming first round selections.
Photo: Zack Mitchell, signed as a free agent by the Wild in March, was a key player in all situations for Guelph as the Storm won the OHL title and made it to the Memorial Cup final (courtesy of CHL Images)
Playoff season is a marathon of several months, and for hockey fans it can be the best and the worst time of the year.
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.
Photo: Rookie pro Erik Haula turned an injury call-up into more than half a season in St. Paul with the Wild (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
By way of reintroducing the good people of Des Moines to professional hockey, the Wild fell well short of making a splash this season. In the NHL, a playoff berth and first-round series win over Central Division winner Colorado are real accomplishments, but there were moments of intense growing pains.