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.
Photo: Forward Kyle Jean is one of many Rangers prospects who brings a lot of size and toughness to the organization. (Photo courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
There are 11 "home grown" players currently on the New York Rangers' roster, including former first round selection Chris Kreider, who played with the AHL Connecticut Whale as recently as January. Of the Rangers prospects currently on the Connecticut Whale roster, there are two former first round picks (Dylan McIlrath and J.T. Miller), one second round selection (Christian Thomas), and seven rookies overall.
Photo: Connecticut Whale forward and New York Rangers prospect JT Miller wrapped up his U-20 eligibility in style as a member of the gold medal-winning USA squad (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
While John Gibson, John Gaudreau, and the defensive unit have received a great deal of well deserved credit for Team USA's gold medal win at the 2013 World Junior Championship, forward JT Miller was somewhat of an unsung hero for that team.