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: Braden Holtby (left) and John Carlson (right) were both selected in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. (Courtesy of Will Schneekloth/Icon SMI)
Any draft that produces a top line defensemen and a starting goalie with great potential should be considered a success. For the Washington Capitals, the 2008 NHL Draft produced stalwart defenseman John Carlson and platoon starter Braden Holtby.
Photo: Washington Capitals prospect Philipp Grubauer, shown here playing for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs, has performed impressively so far in the ECHL (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The ECHL and the ECHL All-Star Game has quietly become one of the top showcases and grooming grounds for upcoming National Hockey League goaltenders.
Just ask the Washington Capitals.
Photo: With 12 goals and 12 assists through 39 games, Tomas Kundratek has been the top producing defenseman for the Hershey Bears this season. (Mark Goldman/Icon SMI)
The Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, did not get as much help as many AHL teams did with the lockout. The team has struggled at times offensively, but has stayed in contention because of the play of goaltender Braden Holtby. With the NHL lockout over, Holtby was recalled to the big club, paving the way for Philipp Grubauer to lead the Bears in net.
Photo: Connor Carrick is one of only four Washington prospects currently playing in the CHL. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Washington Capitals do not possess many prospects in the junior level this season and those they do have are all from the 2012 draft class. This is not an indication of thin talent for the Capitals, but that many of their prospects are taking different routes such as NCAA or playing in Europe.