Photo: Forward Aleksander Barkov is poised for a breakout sophomore season with the Florida Panthers. Barkov was the second overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
After a year in which several prospects left the Panthers system, the summer brought new faces to Florida. Among them is the first overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Aaron Ekblad, a towering, talented defenseman who could be just one of several prospects earning full-time NHL roster spots this fall.
Photo: The Florida Panthers selected center Aleksander Barkov second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. Barkov was solid in his NHL rookie season, managing eight goals and 16 assists in 54 games. (courtesy of Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Florida Panthers head into the 2014 NHL Draft with the first overall pick. While Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is noncommittal about trading the pick, he will listen to offers that are presented.
Photo: Selected second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, forward Aleksander Barkov made an immediate impact for the Florida Panthers. Barkov suffered a knee injury during the 2014 Olympics and has been on injured reserve ever since. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
There have been several notable changes since the fall when the Florida Panthers last Top 20 list was compiled. Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore have graduated, and Florida added high-potential center prospect Brandon Pirri at the trade deadline. Several players have begun getting extended opportunities in the NHL as the regular season winds down and the Panthers playoff hopes slip quietly to the side.
Photo: Anaheim Ducks prospect Nicolas Kerdiles has been outstanding in his sophomore season with the University of Wisconsin. A second round pick the 2012 NHL Draft, Kerdiles has compiled 15 goals and 22 assists through 27 games this year. (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Welcome to the March 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
Photo: Rockford IceHogs forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Jeremy Morin has spent most of the season with the AHL’s IceHogs, but has appeared in 15 games for the Blackhawks in the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Chris Austin/Icon SMI)
While the top nine teams in the East have separated themselves from the pack, the AHL's Western Conference is still wide open heading down the stretch.