NHL fans currently recognize players like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and other assorted superstars, but they were once hockey prospects waiting to make an impact in the big leagues.
While some prospects are in the NHL right after being drafted, others take some time developing their craft in the AHL, NCAA, Europe or other assorted leagues across the globe.
The 2013 NHL draft will include some amazing prospects, but there are already some exciting prospects on NHL teams and others who fans can't wait to see.
Here are examples of some of these prospects, including some who are already exciting fans with their play in the NHL.
*Hockey's Future is widely considered as an authority on prospects, so for the purpose of this article, prospects will abide by the established guideline for eligibility.
Emerson Etem is the Anaheim Ducks' top prospect, and he is a player who is very exciting to watch.
Etem burst onto the scene last year after recording an amazing 61-goal season in the WHL, and in 2013, he has spent time in the AHL and NHL.
He is an offensive player with a ton of speed and skill, and he could complement the roster very well next season.
This season Etem has a stat line of three goals and six assists for nine points with the Ducks.
Dougie Hamilton has played well for the Boston Bruins this season, and he is a prospect who has shown that he has a bright future ahead of him.
Hamilton's size makes him a very attractive defender for the Bruins, and his offensive upside also makes him a valuable commodity on the blue line.
Hamilton is still considered a prospect, and he is going to be a lot of fun to watch in the coming seasons.
This year Hamilton has a stat line of four goals and 11 assists for 15 points with the Bruins.
Joel Armia is a strong and skilled forward who should make the jump to the NHL next season. He is coming off a solid season in the SM-liiga.
Armia posted a stat line of 19-14-33 in 48 games, and he posted 10 points in the playoffs. What makes Armia exciting is his offensive talent, his size at 6'3" and 203 pounds and his speed.
He is the type of forward the Buffalo Sabres need, and he should be an asset to them next season.
Sven Baertschi is a speedy winger standing at 5'11" and 190 pounds, and he has a lot of offensive upside.
Baertschi has spent his season with the Calgary Flames, and he has shown a lot of skill and potential.
He is a smart player who has a ton of offensive smarts. He is solid at creating scoring opportunities.
So far Baertschi has a stat line of zero goals and one assist in 12 games with the Flames, and 10 goals and 16 assists with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL.
Ryan Murphy is a top defenseman prospect for the Carolina Hurricanes. He has a lot of tools that make him a great two-way defenseman. The team really could have used a defender like him for the entire 2013 season.
Murphy was recently recalled on an emergency basis, but arguably, he should have been on the team sooner.
He is primarily an offensive defenseman who works well on the power play, but his speed allows him to cover all zones on the ice with ease.
If all things break right for Murray in 2013-14, he could be a top contender for the Calder Trophy. With the Kitchner Rangers, Murray had 48 points in 54 games.
Brandon Saad is a prospect who is currently a front-runner for the Calder Trophy. There are a ton of things that make him an exciting player.
He is a solid two-way forward, he can produce offensively and he is a very smart player. Saad currently has 23 points in 38 games with Chicago.
For a complete breakdown of Saad's game, check this story out.
Tyson Barrie is a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He is one of their top young players who will make an impact in the future.
He is a solid offensive defenseman with a great point shot and amazing puck-moving skills. He is on the small size standing at 5'10", but he is still young. He has time to bulk up.
Barrie's poise and offensive talent should help the Avalanche next season. He is a player to keep an eye on.
Ryan Murray had some bad luck this season after he suffered a season-ending injury, but he is a defenseman with a ton of upside.
He was selected No. 2 at the 2012 draft. He is the type of defenseman who should fit in well with the Blue Jackets.
The team has transitioned into a team that could make the playoffs, and his skill will certainly help them grow moving forward.
The stage is set for Radek Faksa to make an impact with the Dallas Stars in 2013-14. He is a player who has the skills to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
Faksa is a very talented and determined player who has worked hard to get where he is. He skates with the puck well, he is a solid passer and he is very good at scanning the ice.
In 39 games with the Kitchner Rangers, Faksa put up 31 points of offense, and with Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro gone, Faksa should be a top-six center in 2013-14.
Tomas Jurco is a player who fans can't wait to see at the NHL level. Jurco is an Internet sensation because of the videos that document his amazing puck-handling skills and trick-shot abilities.
He is a talented offensive players who oozes creativity. He is the perfect player for the Detroit Red Wings' offensive system.
Nail Yakupov was the No. 1 pick at the 2012 NHL draft, and he has been a pleasure to watch in 2013. He is a very creative player who is very animated and explosive.
Yakupov has amazing speed, he has solid offensive instincts and he really knows how to get the crowd going during the course of a game.
Yakupov has had a decent season, and he currently has 10 goals and 13 assists through 40 games with the Oilers.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been one of the only bright spots on the Florida Panthers in 2013. He has shown that he is a superstar in the making.
Huberdeau is offensively talented, he can play two-way hockey and he has been a good leader for the Panthers this season.
He is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy, and it will be exciting to see what he can do for the team going forward.
Huberdeau currently leads all rookies with 27 points.
Jake Muzzin burst onto the scene this season after the Los Angeles Kings' blue line was hit with a few injuries, and he hasn't looked back.
He was drafted in 2007 and played a few games with the team last season, but this year, he has been a great player for the Kings.
He has contributed offensively, he has been great on the blue line and he has been able to help solidify the Kings' back end.
Muzzin has 14 points in 37 games, and that is pretty good for a rookie defenseman when you extrapolate it over an 82-game season.
Jonas Brodin has emerged as the Minnesota Wild's top prospect and their most exciting one after dazzling for a good part of the 2013 season.
Brodin has played like a legitimate top-pairing defender alongside Ryan Suter, and he has added a ton of skill and depth to the team's blue line.
He is solid with the puck, he is seldom out of place in his own zone and he is just a pleasure to watch on the ice.
Brendan Gallagher has been mighty impressive this season. He has been slightly better than Alex Galchenyuk.
While Galchenyuk is very talented in his own right, Gallagher has scored some big goals for the Habs, and he has made other big players along the way.
He has been a solid two-way player and a person whom Michel Therrien has been able to rely on in different situations.
Gallagher currently has 21 points through 35 games.
The Nashville Predators are a team that has always needed to add an offensive forward to help take their team to the next level, and trading Martin Erat for top-end prospect Filip Forsberg was a brilliant move by David Poile.
Forsberg is a dynamic forward who has a top-notch skills package. He is a player who will be joining the Predators before the season's end.
Reid Boucher had a monster year for the Sarnia Sting. There is a reason why the New Jersey Devils signed him to an entry-level contract.
Boucher scored 62 goals and had 95 points for Sarnia this season, and the 5'11" forward is only 19 years old. The young pivot has a ton of offensive skill. He should make an impact for the Devils in the coming seasons.
Ryan Strome is arguably the best prospect not in the NHL. He is one of the many elite prospects in the New York Islanders' farm system.
Strome had 94 points this season with the Niagara IceDogs, and he has since joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he has four points in three games.
Strome is a versatile forward who can play center or right wing. He could become part of a deadly duo alongside superstar-center John Tavares.
J.T. Miller is a prospect for the New York Rangers who made more of an impact during his NHL stint than Chris Kreider.
He is an exciting player to watch. He impressed as a 20-year-old during his most recent stint.
Miller has the makings of becoming a solid two-way player. His offensive skills and creativity with the puck are better than when he was originally drafted.
Mika Zibanejad is skilled center who has played well this year in the absence of Jason Spezza on the top line.
He had a rough start in the AHL, but he has improved with the Ottawa Senators, showing the potential to become an above-average scoring center.
Zibanejad has played particularly well with fellow prospect Jakob Silfverberg. The duo has a bright future with the Senators.
The Senators' top prospect currently has 19 points through 33 games.
Scott Laughton was the Philadelphia Flyers' first-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft. According to a tweet by CSNPhilly's Tim Paniccio, he is joining the Adirondack Phantoms.
Laughton is a physical power forward who can produce offensively. He will fit in on the Flyers' roster, given the fact they already have forwards like Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds on their roster.
He is a player with a ton of upside. He was a fun player to watch with the Oshawa Generals.
Brandon Gormley has had an average rookie season with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. He has recorded 26 points in 63 games.
Gormley is the top prospect in the Phoenix Coyotes' farm system, and he projects to be a top-pairing offensive defender.
His mobility, his howitzer of a point shot and offensive instincts should allow him to crack the roster full time in 2013-14. He is a player with a ton of upside.
Beau Bennett has gotten his fair share of opportunities in 2013 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is a player who is still developing
His defensive game is below-average, but his offensive abilities are what should make fans excited.
He is a player who won't dazzle with speed, but he is a smart player with solid instincts and an above-average shot.
He will have the opportunity to play with three talented centers in the future. Bennett should be a solid top-six winger for the Penguins.
The St. Louis Blues added top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko to their roster this season, and he immediately showed why he is going to develop into a superstar.
Tarasenko is a hard-working forward who is über-talented, has the size to dominate and the tools to be an elite scorer.
Before sustaining a concussion, Tarasenko was producing at a pretty good pace, but since returning, he hasn't been the same.
Next year, fans will get the full experience of Tarasenko. Don't be surprised if he is among the league leaders in scoring.
Through 28 games Tarasenko has 16 points.
Tomas Hertl is a playmaking forward who could join the San Jose Sharks in the next few years. He was drafted in 2012, and he has been playing hockey over in Europe.
He has great hands, creativity and his overall offensive game makes him an interesting prospect and a player who will ultimately make a huge impact in San Jose.
In 43 games with Slava Praha HC of the CZE, Hertl had 18 goals and 12 assists in 2012-13.
Alex Kilorn is currently a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has had a solid first season in the league.
He has 17 points in 29 games, and he has adjusted well after spending a short time in the AHL.
Kilron can score and set up opponents, and overall, he is a well-rounded prospect who is developing into a secondary contributor for Tampa Bay.
Morgan Rielly was the Toronto Maple Leafs' top pick from the 2012 draft, and he has grown tremendously over the past 10 months.
Rielly had an offensive outburst for the Moose Jaw Warriors this season after posting 54 points in 60 games. He has since joined the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
The Leafs could use someone like Rielly on their blue line. He projects to be a franchise defender.
Nicklas Jensen is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He is a Danish forward with size. He stands 6'3" and is a skilled skater and playmaker who is only 19 years old.
Jensen was drafted in 2011. He had been playing overseas before coming to North America.
The young Dane is a flashy forward who has a solid wrist shot. He is the type of winger the Vancouver Canucks really could use in their lineup.
Evgeny Kuznetsov is slated to stay in the KHL for the next few years, but he is an elite prospect who would add so much offense and depth to the Washington Capitals.
Kuznetsov has stated that he will play for the Capitals after the Sochi Olympics, and once he makes his debut, fans can prepare to be amazed.
If you were to compare him to a current NHLer, the best comparison would be Evgeni Malkin. Both are premier scorers and passers, both are around the same size and both are very dynamic.
Kuznetsov is only 20, but his stick handling and other offensive skills are above and beyond those of players in his age bracket.
He is versatile forward and one of the most exciting prospects currently not in the NHL.
Jacob Trouba is a very talented defenseman who signed an entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets after ending his NCAA career this season.
Trouba is a 19-year-old defender who dazzled at the WJC early this year. He stands 6'3" and weighs just under 200 pounds. His offensive skills are exemplary for a young defenseman. He appears to have the complete package.
Once he makes his debut for the Jets, fans will fall in love with him because he is just an amazing all-around defender.