Poto: Center Alex Galchenyuk has been impressive in his brief time in the NHL. Galchenyuk is one of two rookies to make the Canadiens roster out of training camp. (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The Montreal Canadiens' prospects as a group have shown solid improvement to their overall games this season. Some players have struggled with injuries and finding their games again but most of the group are exceeding their play of last year. The organization's depth and skill in their talent pool is probably the best it's been in quite some time.
Photo: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko got off to an impressive start in his NHL career, making him an easy choice as the NHL's top rookie for January (courtesy of Scott Kane/Icon SMI)
Due to the NHL lockout, January was an abbreviated month, with most teams playing just over half a dozen games. Nonetheless, the Hockey’s Future staff was polled to give their early thoughts on the front-runners for the league's Calder Trophy, which recognizes the NHL's top rookie.
Photo: St. Louis Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, who is ranked second in HF's prospect rankings, is off to a fine start in his NHL career, making him a leading candidate for NHL Rookie of the Year (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
With the end of the lockout and the abbreviated 48-game season, the opportunities for NHL rookies to make an impression is somewhat limited. Many of the top teams, such as the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, head into the season with their lineups virtually intact from the 2011-12 season.
Photo: Winger Cam Atkinson had a stellar month of December, managing 18 points in 12 games. Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who will get a chance to play in the NHL when the season resumes. (Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
Cam Atkinson could not have got hot at a better time. He managed eight goals, 10 assists with the Springfield Falcons, and finished with a plus-nine rating in 12 December games, making him the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Month.
Photo: Sarnia Sting captain and Montreal Canadiens prospect Alex Galchenyuk has had a good offensive showing at the 2013 World Juniors (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Team USA entered their New Year's Eve showdown with Slovakia knowing that they had to win to keep their medal hopes alive. And win they did, posting a 9-3 victory over the Slovaks to ensure that the USA lives to fight another day.