The New York Rangers' prospects had an excellent season, as the fruits of the changes in drafting philosophy continue to bear fruit. The awards include three first round selections and two picks from the 2011 entry draft.
Here's a look at Hockey's Future's top 10 prospects from the Western Hockey League, a group that includes a large batch of elite defensemen.
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.
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.
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.