Photo: Forward Yevgeni Kuznetsov is widely considered to be the top young hockey player not playing in North America. Kuznetsov is currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. (courtesy of Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)
With every regular season in hockey finished, it is once again time to select the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Year. Though there were many fantastic performances outside of the NHL, none were quite as good as Yevgeni Kuznetsov (WAS), who this season further cemented himself as the best hockey player not currently in North America.
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: Forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas played two seasons at Bowling Green before transferring to Quinnipiac, which will match up against St. Cloud State in the second semi-final game at the Frozen Four (courtesy of Rick Osentoski/Icon SMI)
For Quinnipiac forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas (WPG), two years can make a world of difference.
"I remember this time two years ago sitting in my dorm room at [Bowling Green]," said Samuels-Thomas, just a day before his team would play St. Cloud State University in the semi-final match of the Frozen Four.
Photo: UMass Lowell goaltender and Winnipeg Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck has been a driving force in the River Hawks second half surge to the 2013 Frozen Four (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
UMass Lowell freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) has been a big reason behind the River Hawks’ successful run into the Frozen Four. He currently leads the nation in several categories, including goals-against average (1.31) and save percentage (.953). His six shutouts are also tied for the most nationally.
Photo: UMass Lowell freshman goaltender and Winnipeg Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck has been impressive in his first season of Division 1 hockey (courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
Not many goalies have a lot of success during their freshman season in Hockey East, but UMass Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck has dominated college hockey so far this season.