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.
Photo: Selected 19th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Chris Kreider is among the top forwards for the New York Rangers this year, with 13 goals and 17 assists through 52 games. (courtesy Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)
The New York Rangers selected seven players in the 2009 NHL Draft. Of those seven, three are still part of the organization, including the team's first round selection and current first line NHL forward, Chris Kreider. Two additional players, second rounder Ethan Werek and fifth round selection Roman Horak, were traded in transactions that have proved very fruitful for New York.
Photo: T.J. Brodie was a leader on the Abbotsford Heat's defensive corps before he was called up to Calgary, where he has recently skated in the Flames' top-four. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
The Abbotsford Heat finished comfortably in fourth place in the AHL Western Conference for the 2011-12 regular season, playing in the Calder Cup Playoffs after missing them in the previous year. The Heat swept through the first round but was beaten in five games by the Toronto Marlies in the second round of the playoffs. The team lost to a Marlies team that would end up playing for the Calder Cup.
Photo: After spending most of his 2011-12 season with the Flames, center Roman Horak has opened his 2012-13 season with a goal-per-game pace for Abbotsford in the AHL. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
After years of poor draft selections, trading away draft picks to try to win now, and bad development of their prospects, the Calgary Flames have slowly improved their organizational depth and talent pool over the last few years. The Flames still have a lot of work to do in order for their farm system to be where a smaller market team, in today's NHL cap world, needs to be for success as a franchise.
Photo: T.J. Brodie turned in a strong debut with the Calgary Flames in 2011-12, but the lockout will keep the offensively-minded blueliner in the AHL for the 2012-13 season. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
The Calgary Flames prospect pool appears to be on the upswing. A blue-chip prospect on the verge of NHL stardom like Sven Baertschi will do that for an organization, of course, but there are also a handful of prospects who earned NHL experience during the club's 2011-12 campaign. The organization boasts several high-upside prospects developing at lower levels of play as well, giving the Flames as strong a pipeline as they have had in recent years.