Photo: Forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov is widely considered to be the top young hockey player not playing in North America. Kuznetsov is currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. (courtesy of Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)
With every regular season in hockey finished, it is once again time to select the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Year. Though there were many fantastic performances outside of the NHL, none were quite as good as Yevgeni Kuznetsov (WAS), who this season further cemented himself as the best hockey player not currently in North America.
Photo: Cam Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who has seen regular time in the lineup for Columbus during the 2013 NHL season (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Welcome to 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: Defenseman Andrew MacWilliam recently signed an entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. MacWilliam spent the season playing for North Dakota. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
The Maple Leafs have several prospects playing at the NCAA and European level. Tony Cameranesi boasts the most impressive season out of any NCAA prospect, while a strong performance from Swedish defenseman Tom Nilsson has earned him an entry-level deal with the Maple Leafs. All three of the Maple Leafs European prospects are Swedish.
Photo: Defenseman Morgan Rielly maintains his spot as the top prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rielly was selected 5th overall by the Leafs in 2012. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
The shortened 2012-13 NHL campaign has seen the Toronto Maple Leafs use a number of developed players throughout the season. Eight players who are 26 years old or younger, have suited up for the Maple Leafs this season – all of them playing vital roles for the Toronto Marlies earlier this season . This is a testament to the process the Maple Leafs have implemented in recent years to develop and promote more prospects.
Photo: Goaltender Andrey Makarov went 15-0 in the month of February. Makarov was signed by the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent in 2012. (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Saskatoon Blades goaltender Andrey Makarov (BUF) is the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Month for February. The undrafted Russian goaltender rocked the WHL last month, posting a 15-0 record, a 1.72 goals-against average, a .948 save percentage, and two shutouts.