Photo: The Buffalo Sabres added to their already deep draft pool with nine selections at the 2014 NHL Draft, including first round pick Sam Reinhart (L) and second round selection Brandon Lemieux (R) (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The NHL's Western Conference currently has the bragging rights to league supremacy as a a result of the Los Angeles Kings five-game Stanley Cup final win over the New York Rangers. While the results from the 2014 NHL Draft may not alter the current lock the West has on the NHL's most prized trophy, at least one team in the Eastern Conference might be offering a ray of hope for the future.
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: Forward Adam Tambellini was selected by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. The Rangers did not have a pick in the first or second round of the 2013 Draft. (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers recent long run through the 2014 postseason took many surprise. A solid team, well coached to highlight its strengths, New York's playoff success was a group effort. The team's top marquee player, Rick Nash, was not very effective during the playoffs, however, the team's speed and signature defense caused opponents quite a bit of trouble.
Photo: Defenseman Ryan Graves had a strong third year of junior hockey, split between the Charlottetown Islanders and Val d’Or Foreurs. Graves was selected by the New York Rangers in the 4th round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
When the New York Rangers drafted Anthony Duclair in the third round of the draft last summer, they were hoping that the young Quebec Remparts left wing would bounce back from a mediocre sophomore season and become a really good prospect. But even the most optimistic scout could not have predicted how successful Duclair would be in his 2013-14 season.
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.