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.
Photo: Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen leads a deep group of Buffalo Sabres prospects (courtesy of Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hockey's Future presents the top group of the 2014 Spring NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked by the overall quality of their prospect pool as voted on by the HF staff. For reference, the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall rankings. Each team's Fall ranking is listed in parenthesis next to their current ranking.
Photo: Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon led all NHL rookies in scoring during the 2013-14 regular season, and even led all NHL scorers during the 2014 NHL playoffs until the Avalanche were eliminated in the first round (courtesy of Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon had a huge second half of the season to pull away from the field in the Calder Trophy race. His performance in the 2014 NHL playoffs was simply the cherry on top of a great rookie season.
Photo: Prior to joining the Chicago Blackhawks at the tail end of the 2013-14 regular season, Teuvo Teravainen was a standout in Finland’s Liiga, where he managed 44 points in 49 games. Teravainen was also a key part of Finland’s gold medal team at the 2014 World Junior Championship. (courtesy of Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
The hockey world saw many fantastic individual performances over the course of the 2013-14 season. Few, however, rivaled the performance of forward Teuvo Teräväinen (CHI), who is the Hockey's Future 2014 Prospect of the Year.