Photo: Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad signifies his draft position after being chosen first overall at the 2014 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers (courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The 2014 NHL Draft has come and gone, and another 210 players become the property of NHL teams for at least the next two years in most cases.
Photo: Plymouth Whalers goaltender and former Belle Tire player Alex Nedeljkovic was chosen in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes (courtesy of Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
It's no secret that youth hockey in the United States has made great strides the past few decades.
Players from more geographical locations continue to appear on the rosters of major junior teams in Canada, as well as USHL and NAHL clubs in the U.S. The National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, MI and the squads at the northeastern private schools and NCAA college teams also have more American players than ever.
Photo: Boston Bruins draftee Ryan Donato is currently deciding whether to return to Dexter School for another season or play for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers in 2014-15 (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Very few hockey players get the chance to play for the team that they grew up watching, but forward Ryan Donato has a chance to make that dream a reality.
Photo: U.S. NTDP forward and 2014 prospect Sonny Milano was an offensive force for that program this season as he totaled 86 points in 58 games (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Another year has come and gone for the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) that has once again seen its work culminate in another gold medal at the U18 World Championship, this time around in Lappeenranta, Finland.
Photo: Youngstown Phantoms forward and 2015 prospect Kyle Connor was named to the 2013-14 All-USHL First Team after finishing second overall in scoring with 74 points (courtesy of Rob Bindler)
The state of Michigan may be famous for being the birthplace of the automotive industry, but aside from cars, the state also produces many of the top hockey players in the world. When the Detroit Red Wings began play in 1926, it helped nudge a budding grassroots hockey movement in the right direction.