Photo: Forward Nick Baptiste was one among the Buffalo Sabres’ most improved prospects in 2013-14. Baptiste managed 89 points in 65 OHL games this past season, more than his previous two junior seasons combined. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
If the decline of the Buffalo Sabres had to reach its darkest depths before progressing upwards, the 2013-14 season was certainly the franchise's lowest point. At various points throughout the season, the team was in a state of flux, either in the front office, behind the bench, or on the ice.
Photo: Kings back-up goaltender Martin Jones is one of several top prospects to have made an impact for the Kings at the NHL level in 2013-14 (courtesy of Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
The fall Top 20 list for the Los Angeles Kings saw the rise of some question marks about players like Jordan Weal, Nikolai Prokhorkin, and Jonny Brodzinski. Could they excel in new surroundings? Could they follow up strong years with better ones? How will they progress from the previous season?
Photo: Winger Kyle Clifford, selected 35th overall in 2009, has been a fixture in the Kings lineup since breaking into the NHL in 2010-11 (courtesy of Adam Davis/Icon SMI)
After the 2006, 2007, and 2008 drafts yielded core members of the Kings future Stanley Cup run, the 2009 draft also yielded several key players.
Photo: Defenseman Derek Forbort, the Kings 15th overall pick in 2010, is skating in his rookie pro season with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
With the Manchester Monarchs losing four incredibly key players to NHL call-ups, you would expect that the team would struggle this year with a lack of scoring or depth. However, with several new players and old role players stepping up, the Monarchs have remained an incredibly competitive hockey team and sit atop the AHL's Eastern Conference.
Photo: The Kings prospect pool is heavy on two-way players like Andy Andreoff, a hard-nosed center who could see time on the bottom line in LA this season (courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings system, while you would expect a drop off in quality due to several playoff appearances in the last few years, has remained relatively strong.