Photo: Forward Cristoval Nieves had an excellent freshman season at the University of Michigan, managing 29 points in 40 games. (courtesy of Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
Many high-end New York Rangers prospects have graduated to the NHL over the last few years, and while that has resulted in a lot of success in the regular season, it has also created a dearth of elite young talent in the system. Despite this, several prospects who are currently in the system stood out during the 2012-13 season.
Photo: Danish forward Thomas Spelling played the 2012-13 season in Sweden with Rogle, spending most of his time in the SuperElit league. (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers have never been afraid to sign college free agents, having already signed one defenseman, Conor Allen, to an entry-level contract this spring. Over the past couple of seasons, the Rangers additionally invite two or three potential NCAA free agent signees to development camp in late June. Last summer, Kyle Jean was signed to an entry-level contract after just such a camp.
Photo: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future 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: Winger Christian Thomas is one of several Rangers forward prospects who are playing their first season of professional hockey. (courtesy of Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
The New York Rangers boast excellent forward depth, with the likes of Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Mats Zuccarello all seeing some time on the NHL squad this season. The Rangers also have several other prospects who are close to making an impact in the NHL, including Christian Thomas, Jesper Fasth, and Dylan McIlrath.
Photo: Derek Stepan (left) and Michael Del Zotto (right) have been key contributors to the New York Rangers. Both skaters were selected in the 2008 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Will Schneekloth/Icon SMI)
In the most successful draft in recent memory, the New York Rangers selected seven players in 2008, including four who are currently playing in the NHL. Two of the four NHL skaters are key players in New York. Of the five 2008 draftees who are no longer with the organization, the Rangers got value in return for two.