Photo: University of Minnesota backstop Adam Wilcox, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, and the Gophers hold the top spot in the Big Ten going into the final weeks of the NCAA regular season (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Welcome to the February 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
Photo: Binghamton Senators forward and Ottawa Senators prospect Mike Hoffman has turned in a strong season in the AHL after having his 2012-13 campaign shortened by an injury (courtesy of Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
With the NHL on a two-week Olympic hiatus, several top prospects were sent down to their respective AHL teams, with several teams in the Eastern Conference receiving reinforcements.
For some clubs, the quick spike in depth provided almost instant results. For others, the "better on paper" lineup caused a downgrade in the team's on-ice performance.
Photo: Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Draft, defenseman Oliver Lauridsen has gradually developed into a steady presence along the blue line. Lauridsen is currently playing with the Flyers AHL affiliate. (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
The Philadelphia Flyers 2009 NHL Draft class was relatively light, with only six picks on the board and none coming in the first two rounds. Their first-round pick was packaged in a trade to Anaheim for Chris Pronger, while their second-round pick was dealt to Tampa Bay in 2008.
Photo: Forward Jason Akeson currently leads the Adirondack Phantoms with 16 goals and 42 points through 45 games. Akeson was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers to an NHL deal in 2011. (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
The Adirondack Phantoms have had a rough couple of seasons in the AHL recently, but a fresh injection of youth and sophomore head coach Terry Murray are trying to right the ship. With Murray putting a heavy emphasis on defense-first hockey, the Phantoms are one of the best defensive teams in the AHL.
Photo: Forward Taylor Leier is one of three prospects who will represent the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2014 World Junior Championships. (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Flyers have a good number of prospects in junior hockey. Over the last few seasons, the organization has focused on developing and improving their blue line depth, as many of their current defensemen are already past their prime.