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: Winger Jonathan Drouin had a standout season in the QMJHL, managing 108 points in only 46 games. Drouin was selected third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Despite a first round playoff exit to the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has to be feeling pretty good about the position the organization is in right now. The Lightning finished a surprising second place in the Atlantic Division, with key contributions from young players like Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Ondrej Palat, among others.
Photo: Defenseman Aaron Ekblad (left) and forwards Sam Reinhart (center) and Sam Bennett (right) will learn where they begin their professional careers at the 2014 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images and Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Now that the Los Angeles Kings have hoisted their second Stanley Cup in three years, the hockey world can now focus on the 2014 NHL Draft that will take place on June 27th and 28th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Forward Cedric Paquette was one of several young Tampa Bay Lightning players who made their NHL Playoff debut in 2014. Paquette was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
As has been the case for the past few seasons now, the Tampa Bay Lightning had some breakthrough performances from prospects this year. Many of those strong performances carried over into the postseason, with several prospects positioning themselves well for the future.
Photo: Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis had a strong rookie season in the AHL, winning 18 of 35 starts while posting a 2.68 goals against average. Gudlevkis also represented Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympics. (courtesy of Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning have steadily built a strong group of prospects since the arrival of general manager Steve Yzerman in 2010. This season, their patience paid dividends as they made a surprising playoff appearance. Several prospects – Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio – made key contributions and earned regular NHL roles.