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: Green Bay Gamblers forward and 2014 prospect Nick Schmaltz will join his brother Jordan this fall at the University of North Dakota (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
The USHL has been churning out top flight NCAA talent for over a decade now and has become more and more important in the eyes of the NHL scouting community. Known primarily as the top league for the development of future NCAA players, an increasing number of USHL grads have seen their path lead to the NHL.
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.
Photo: Kootenay Ice captain and 2014 prospect Sam Reinhart will likely enter the 2014 NHL Draft as the top-ranked prospect according to ISS Hockey (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
The calendar has flipped over to May, but the top 10 in the ISS Hockey ranking of the 2014 NHL Draft prospects looks an awful lot like the top of the order in April's rankings.