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: Timely scoring from Wisconsin sophomore Joseph Labate was key for the Badgers down the stretch before the team fell to UMass-Lowell in the first round of the NCAA tournament (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
Hockey pundits dubbed the Vancouver Canucks' 2012 NHL Entry Draft selections as "off the board" after their first round selection of Brendan Gaunce. In retrospect, Canucks scouts and management did their utmost to ensure that their later round selections followed several criteria: big, gritty, with a hint of untapped potential.
Photo: Nicklas Jensen, shown here skating for Team Denmark, is expected to return to North America after his season ends in the Swedish Elite League. (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
For the Vancouver Canucks organization, regular season success over the last half-decade has been a dual-edged sword. Winners of multiple President’s Trophies and continually atop the Northwest Division standings, any neutral hockey enthusiast might think it is crazy to label their success a bane. But on two levels, this success has presented challenges that few organizations would covet.
Photo: Prab Rai, the Canucks' fifth round pick in 2008, has been limited by injury to just 31 ECHL games through three seasons thus far in his pro career. (courtesy of Kathleen Hinkel/Icon SMI)
Two players from the Vancouver Canucks 2008 NHL Draft remain in the system, defenseman Yann Sauve and center Prab Rai. Of the two, Sauve is the only one to get a taste of NHL hockey action, with a five game call-up in 2010. Perhaps one of the more prolific and discussed players drafted by the Canucks, Cody Hodgson’s arrival in 2008 provided local sports pages with material aplenty. Just as some drafts bring hope and anticipation, Vancouver's 2008 draft brought drama and intrigue, culminating in one of the biggest and most shocking trades in the NHL during the 2011-12 season.
Photo: Defenseman Chris Tanev has been one of the best blueliners at both ends of the rink for the Chicago Wolves thus far in 2012-13. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Considering that the Chicago Wolves have played the fewest games in their conference to this point in the 2012-13 season, they are enjoying a modicum of success. Though currently sitting in 10th spot, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks is still within striking distance of a top five seeding.