Photo: Forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov is widely considered to be the top young hockey player not playing in North America. Kuznetsov is currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. (courtesy of Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)
With every regular season in hockey finished, it is once again time to select the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Year. Though there were many fantastic performances outside of the NHL, none were quite as good as Yevgeni Kuznetsov (WAS), who this season further cemented himself as the best hockey player not currently in North America.
Photo: Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau finished the 2012-13 season tied for the lead among NHL rookies with 31 points (courtesy of Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Hockey's Future presents the top grouping of the Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. 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.
Photo: Forward Nino Niederreiter has had a solid bounceback season in the AHL, managing 26 goals and 45 points through 64 games. (courtey of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
The New York Islanders have done a tremendous job of stockpiling a very deep and talented prospect pool. General Manager Garth Snow has learned to not rush his youngsters and to make sure they are one hundred percent ready before he calls upon them for full-time NHL duty. The next few years will be critical in the development of these young guns and will prove if they can play at the NHL level.
Photo: Josh Bailey (12) and Matt Martin (17) are two of the 13 players the Islanders selected in the 2008 NHL Draft. Martin and Bailey are both regular members of the Islanders' NHL roster. (Courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
With thirteen picks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft the probability of the New York Islanders selecting a few gems was pretty high. Almost five years removed from this draft, nine of the 13 players selected have played an NHL game.
Photo: Forward Casey Cizikas is one of several Islanders prospects who has a fair amount of NHL experience. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
Due to the NHL lockout, anyone with a two-way contract was able to hone their skills at the AHL level in Bridgeport while they waited for the NHL to resume. This increased the overall level of play in the AHL, which has been good for the overall development of the New York Islanders' prospects.