Photo: Finishing the season with an OHL championship and an appearance at the Memorial Cup, defenseman Scott Harrington easily saw the most post-season success of any Penguin prospect. (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
Only two years ago an extended run in the NHL post-season was a seeming right of passage for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and their rabid fanbase. But after two consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, the Penguins have experienced dramatic early post-season upsets, the first in 2011 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and most recently in 2012 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Photo: Defenseman Chris Wideman was one of many Senators prospects to ink an entry-level deal at the conclusion of his season. Expected to start 2012-13 in the AHL, Wideman brings a two-way puck-moving presence to the Ottawa organization. (Tim G. Zechar/Icon SMI)
As an organization, the Ottawa Senators were able to gain invaluable experience during the recent playoff season. The NHL club exceeded most predictions and made the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Many observers credited a portion of their success to a core group of young players who played a major role in the Binghamton Senators championship run in the 2010-11 AHL playoffs.
Photo: The NHL Combine has long been an important event leading up to the Draft. This year it was particularly important as many of the top eligible prospects had their seasons cut short by injury. (Ken McKenna/HF)
Last week, the National Hockey League engaged in its annual ritual of interviewing, testing, and examining the top players eligible for the 2012 Entry Draft. The 105 prospects that attended the Combine were poked, prodded and questioned, as well as given psychological tests. The difference this year is that there were many more second-year eligible prospects in attendance, and maybe more importantly, many draft eligible prospects had endured injury shortened seasons, which resulted in different concerns on the part of the NHL teams.
Photo: Brayden Schenn (right) celebrates with teammate and fellow rookie Sean Couturier. Schenn and Couturier were integral parts of the Flyers 2012 post-season run. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
Though many have graduated from the prospect list through the course of this past season, a number of the 11 rookies that took part in the Philadelphia Flyers' 2011-12 season were also key components to their 2012 postseason.
Photo: Greg McKegg (92) was the lone prospect to represent the Leafs at the 2012 Memorial Cup. (Terry Wilson/CHL Images)
It's been a long time since a team in Toronto has played meaningful hockey in the Spring months. The Toronto Marlies have changed those fortunes this season with a strong year that has translated into a lengthy post-season run that has seen the club play in the Calder Cup finals. Led by a handful of solid prospects, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope the recent post-season run by the Marlies will translate into more NHL ready players as soon as next season.