I want to remind all readers that this series of articles rating the junior hockey leagues in North America is based upon independent opinions and analysis of scouts throughout the United States and Canada.
This rating is based upon the 2018-2019 season and nothing more. League history does not come into account in any way. What they did five or ten years ago has zero impact on todays ranking. It is a statement on development of players and how hard those leagues work to move players up to higher levels.
The criteria that was used in rating these twenty leagues, was how do teams within the leagues compare when developing players who move on to the NHL, NCAA, Canadian University, USHL, NAHL, Canada Junior A and Major Junior hockey programs.
1. The United States Hockey League
The USHL is once again proving it is the dominant path for development. Anyone who wants to argue this point can simply look to last years NHL draft results. Now is when I look for our Canadian readers to chime in on things. The majority of NHL free agent signings also come through the USHL to NCAA path. The number of players looking at the USHL as a viable option to keep their NCAA opportunities open is continuously growing. Experts around the world expect this trend to continue.
2. The Ontario Hockey League
The OHL is still an incredible development option for those players who are on the fast track to the NHL, but it no longer dominates hockey development as it did ten or more years ago. A continued lack of depth is reducing its numbers of players moving on. Players have recognized the clear advantages of playing in the USHL and keeping their NCAA opportunity open until their draft year has passed.
3. The Western Hockey League
The WHL is raising its offensive game. Once known as a factory for physically dominating defensive prospects, the WHL is now producing some very talented offensive players. While still maintaining their reputation as a hard defensive minded league, the forwards playing and producing in this league are better prepared for the NHL because of it.
4. North American Hockey League
The NAHL is still the leader in direct to NCAA Division One placement. It is a league of players who tend to develop a little later, and trend a little older. The NAHL is a very hard league to play in. Fast and physical, the league is very difficult to break into and not one for younger players. The NAHL is developing a steady stream of players that now make it to the NHL after NCAA hockey.
5. British Columbia Hockey League
The BCHL continues to out produce the rest of Canada when it comes to NCAA and CIS placement. Many of those NCAA players are moving on to professional hockey. The BCHL simply recruits better, and develops more players because they have higher standards than the rest.
6. The Quebec Major Junior League
The QMJHL is still hanging on to the number six spot. The league while still producing some NHL talent has largely become an afterthought in Canada. Fewer players every year are choosing the QMJHL over Junior A, or heading south to the USA. The 2020 NHL draft may help shine the light back on the QMJHL for the next few seasons, and the hope is that with NHL draft success, the QMJHL can once again raise its game to what it once was.
Once again the NCDC saw its numbers of players heading to NCAA D-1 and D-3 programs rise in the 2018-2019 season. The league in its first two years proven that its geography and free to play hockey can pay immediate dividends for players. The NAHL also recognized this as the number of NCDC players drafted and signed to NAHL rosters in the summer of 2019 rose dramatically. The NCDC should continue to raise its game as they continue to limit the number of 20 year old players and develop younger prospects close to home.
8. Eastern Hockey League
The EHL is simply a well oiled machine and continued to lead the United States in NCAA D-3 and D-2 placements. While also moving a number of players on to higher levels of junior hockey, the EHL is embracing a development ladder philosophy. Excellent coaching, administration, and marketing keep the EHL in the top ten every year.
9. USPHL Premier
The USPHL Premier proves every year is still one of the top development leagues in North America. Moving players to Tier II and NCAA programs is a daily occurrence. While the NCDC has taken the lead in the USPHL family, the Premier is still an excellent development league. The USPHL is clearly the development pool for the NCDC as many players are simply moved up through the organizations. Clearly the business model thought of three years ago is working.
10. Alberta Junior Hockey League
The AJHL continues to take advantage of its new found level of attention from NHL scouts. This attention has benefitted all players with increased exposure, and higher levels of scouts in the buildings on a regular basis. Better scouting, more scholarships, and an increased level of play keeps the AJHL in out top ten.
11. Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League
The GOJHL, based on the volume of players moving on to the OHL as well as other Canadian Junior A leagues continues to show why it is one of the top development leagues in the world.
12. Ontario Junior Hockey League
The OJHL continues to see a drop in NCAA commitments, and barely held on to the number twelve spot. Now many players and parents see the league as a cash cow for owners and the level of play has clearly fallen off.
13. USPHL – Elite
The USPHL – Elite moves up one spot this year simply based on the volume of players moved up to the USPHL – Premier. Many of these players are now getting NCAA opportunities as they take their time developing within USPHL development systems.
14. Central Canadian Hockey League
The CCHL is now falling. Many complaints about player fees. Misleading recruiting practices with non Canadian players, and gimmicks to get families to fork over more money every summer are not going over well. A continued decline in commitments is also not a good sign moving forward.
15. Kootenay International Junior Hockey League
The KIJHL moves up two spots this year. A noticeably increased effort to move players to Junior A has been working and the league talent level is on the rise because of it.
16. Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
The SJHL once again elevated their efforts to promote players this year and it paid off. While geography keeps scouting limited, the SJHL is trying to focus on developing quality players for NCAA and CIS programs.
17. Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
The NOJHL is a fading a bit. Once on the fast track for leading Canada in NCAA D-3 player development, the NOJHL has not found a real identity. Too much major junior influence is now keeping the top players who are not ready for higher level Tier II leagues from going to the NOJHL.
18. Superior International Junior Hockey League
If not for bad league management, the SIJHL would have risen in the rankings this year. A greater emphasis from individual teams on player development is working, yet a lack of creative problem solving at the league level holds the SIJHL back from becoming a player destination.
19. Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League
Still a great BCHL player development league and very well run. It is a staple of the Canadian development system.
20. Eastern Hockey League Premier
The EHLP is a not as well known as the others, but is steadily developing many players for the EHL. The EHLP is kept younger by design in order to move players up through their own development systems and this is a model that is clearly working.
This concludes our rankings for 2019.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Do many 16/17 year old's participate in any of those leagues? I would imagine it is for the 18 and older groups.
Really? How many 16/17 year olds from New England play in these leagues?
USHL, NAHL, BCHL? I can see a few playing NCDC or Premier but not more then 5-10, maybe?
USHL Average age last year was 18.8
NAHL Average age last year was 18.8
BCHL Average age last year was 18.7
NCDC Average age last year was 19.8
Not many 16/17 year olds from anywhere playing on these teams.
This post has me confused. To the guy who said "only the good 16-17 year olds" out of New England play in the leagues, do you have any names of kids currently playing because I also can find any.
16/17 year olds from New England should be playing Prep or high end U16/U18 and then move on to these other leagues. Its the right path.
What do you do with a very good 16/17 year old that doesn't want to leave home just yet?
just curious why NA3HL is not included. safe to assume it's no.21?
Comical to look at these rankings written by someone who is clearly retarded and biased. The author won't even publish his name as he knows how stupid this is. Good for a laugh though. The USHL at 1? Hahaha! The QMJHL at 6? Hahahaha. The best team in the USHL wouldn't win a game in the QMJHL. Total joke written by a dummy with an agenda. You can read right through it.
You think the Q is good? All offense and not the most respected league. Yeah they win the championship but it's usually one / two stacked teams.
Thanks for pointing out the dummy's name who pretends he knows something. Hey Joe, did you look at the end of year CHL rankings before putting your joke of a list together. In case you missed it... CHL teams ranked 1-10:
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (54-7-0-1)
Prince Albert Raiders (51-9-2-2)
Drummondville Voltigeurs (48-11-2-1)
Ottawa 67’s (46-11-3-2)
London Knights (44-12-6-1)
Halifax Mooseheads (46-14-2-1)
Everett Silvertips (45-14-2-2)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar (44-14-2-2)
Vancouver Giants (44-14-2-2)
Saginaw Spirit (42-15-2-3)
The QMJHL had 4 of the top 10, and 2 of the top 3 yet you rank the Q a distant 3rd? Even below some pretty weak leagues. Your agenda is pretty clear Joe. Publish whatever b.s. you can to try to make sure the top New England kids don't consider the Q. If you're going to pretend to be knowledgeable, why don't you at least try to be accurate and let people decide for themselves what is the best path to their own development. More fake news. Dummy!
And this isn't subjective as well? They don't play across leagues until finals so a record in one league is irrelevant to the others. What isn't subjective is the NHL Draft and by that standard the Q doesn't perform all that well.
Also comparing USHL to CHL is a little bit apples to oranges.
USHL top players leave earlier for NCAA, typically at 18/19 so the older players in the league are less skilled. Top CHL players who don't sign with NHL teams have to stay in CHL until they are 20 as they can't play in the AHL until they are 20. Based upon that alone means there is more talent in CHL in any given year but it's not a huge gap.
That's another one people post all the time which just spreads the ignorance, that the QMJHL is a much older league filled with 20 year olds. Here are the facts based on stats from last season:
13 of the 15 teams in the USHL have an average age over 18.
Only 8 of 18 teams in the QMJHL have an average age over 18.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there. The Q is by far the younger league.
Q teams can have a max of 3 twenty year olds. No such restriction in the USHL. This keeps the Q a you get league and moves the older players out for younger players. Good system
Dude reading comprehension is not a strong suit of yours. I didn't say CHL was older. Both leagues are U20, and both allow I believe up to six 20 year olds which would make them the same age.
What I did say was that the top talent in the USHL leaves before age 20 to go play college hockey. CHL players have no where to go. It's NHL or bust.
Now go put down your CHL pom poms, take off the QMJHL footie pajamas and go find a job.
Q only allows 3 max
The guy is an idiot. If you want good commentary about junior hockey, try JuniorHockey.com. The guy who runs that site knows his stuff and is completely unbiased.
Boo hoo. No one wants to go to the Q. It's always been that way and always will. Get over it. NCAA is a better route. More options, more flexibilty, more time to develop.
He didn't say Q teams aren't good?
"The QMJHL is still hanging on to the number six spot. The league while still producing some NHL talent has largely become an afterthought in Canada."
Nothing further from the truth!
The list of the Top 10 CHL teams just came out and the QMJHL has 3 of the top 4 spots in the whole CHL (includes the QMJHL, the OHL, and the WHL). So much for the QMJHL being an afterthought. What a moron this guy is. The Q is the best juinior league in the world and has been for a loooong time. Stop with the stupidity please.
I don't think he's missing the point. The writer has a clear agenda and is trying to play the part to discourage New England kids from heading to the Q. He is trying to do his part to keep the top talent in New England. I hate bias journalism. Don't put your own opinion in your articles, just report accurate information and let people decide for themselves what is the best path. Thats your job Nd youll earn a lot more credibility that way. The writer just sounds ignorant when trying to lie to people about the Q.
NTDP u18 team would beat any team from Q. FACT!
That's an opinion, not a fact. You're too dumb to know the difference
I assume you're kidding. The USNDP is in 7th place in their division (out of eight teams). They finished in 5th place in their division last year. No chance those kids could compete with any of the qmjhl teams. They would get destroyed by the top teams in the Q. And, that's big boy hockey up there fellas. These kids would actually get hurt.
The U17 team takes most of the USHL losses. The U18 team wins most of it's USHL games but plays a college heavy schedule. The result in the standigs is a mix of the two teams but since your so knowledgeable about all things hockey I'm sure you knew that. The U18's would do just fine in the Q.
Just fine being mostly winning....
Yeah, completely clueless. The Q is head and shoulders better than any US junior league. No contest
Comical comments from someone who is obviously extremely ignorant about these leagues. There is no comparison between them. The QMJHL is historically the best league in the CHL and is much stronger than the USHL. It is not even debatable. Not even close
Yo, you do know that most of us just want to play somewhere where the coach is legit, the league is legit and the snowbunnies are legit, right?
You are a dummy. No clue about what you are saying. The Q is consistently the top in the CHL. Meaning, it is the top Jr league in the world. Behind the USHL? Hahahaha you're funny bro! Dummy.
Are you talking about the data that has the QMJHL occupying 4 of the top 10 spots in the CHL? Or the number one team ranked in the CHL? So is that the data you're talking about? Hahahahaha! Fake news. Clueless.:joy:
I'd say the CHL officials I know a little bit more about how the teams stack up then you do you dummy. So you're claiming to know more about each of the teams in the qmjhl, the OHL, in the WHL, and how they measure up against each other? Why don't you leave it to the experts dumb dumb.
You make a very weak argument. The question is, is the QMJHL the weakest league in the CHL like people are saying in this post. Based on the experts who live in the world of the CHL, the qmjhl is not the weakest. To the contrary, it is the strongest. If you're looking for facts, the league officials in the CHL will give more accurate information then dummies on the dboard. But, let me ask, why do you care so much that you want the Q to be the weakest league in the CHL? Your kid did not get any attention from the league so you are angry? That would be a good bet. Get over it bud.
You looking for data? How about NHL Central Scouting? Would they have a better idea than you do about where the talent is? Hmmmm, let's take a look at the NHL's most recent draft list. Here's a summary of the top 31 (first round) projections.
NHL 2020 First Round Projections:
QMJHL 7 (including #1 overall)
USHL 2 (#18 and #25 - Wow, that's impressive! What a great league!)
Yeah, looks like the Q sucks and the USHL is great. Hahaha!
"there lot's of data out there on it". Hahahahaha! What a moron!
"The Q isn't remotely close to the USHL, ask any Pro scout. Your postilion is laughable, it's been years since the Q was a good league."
Take a quick look at NHL Central Scouting ratings. QMJHL is muuuuch stronger than the USHL. Ask any pro Scout! Hahaha dummy
With all this Q bashing I decided to just take a quick look to see if there was any truth to either side of the argument. I have read more than a few comments that the Q is well behind the OHL and the WHL, but based on actual results, it looks like the Q is the strongest league in the CHL based on the last few seasons. As someone posted above, the Q is very strong in terms of CHL rankings and NHL draft pick rankings. Last year the final in the Memorial Cup was between two Q teams head to head for the CHL championship. The Q won the Memorial Cup last year and the year before.
Last year's final CHL rankings before the Memorial Cup, the Q had 4 of the Top 10 in the CHL, including #1 and #3. From a neutral perspective, the Q is definitely not behind the OHL or WHL. Based on stats and past recent history, the Q is definitely the strongest league. You can argue with that if you want, but facts don't lie.
Yeah but that's just the last couple years.
The last 10 Memorial Cups:
The Q has won 5, the OHL has won 4 and the WHL has won 1.
The Q is far from being the weakest league in the CHL. Fake news.
All this blowhard crap doesn't matter. CHL and USHL are all top quality leagues. The bottom line is what makes sense for your kid. If your kid is from New England and has a goal of NCAA, NHL or both, there is still no comparison. There are no compelling reasons to go to the Q. If he goes, goodbye to NCAA. If he think's he's NHL material then he has to play in that league until he's 20 unless he goes to the NHL in that time. He can't play in the AHL. So if he plays in the Q till he's 20, then he must turn pro. There are no other options. If he turn pro and goes to the AHL or ECHL, then he can only do that for one year to preserve his education money from the Q. So he must either give up the hockey dream after one year or give up the the education benefit to keep after pro hockey.
It's all non sensical when you can go the USHL route, leave for college when your ready, then in college play for four years until your 23-25. Perhaps the kid is pro ready by then or if not, he still has a degree.
No junior hockey route is perfect but the flexiblity USHL/NCAA offers make the decsion a no brainer.
Will be interesting to see how Q-eligible prospects choose their path the next few years. More Quebec and Maritimes kids appear to be kicking tires on Prep/USHL/NCAA route lately. However, it's looking like the Q is at worst, catching up with OHL as a legitimate fast path to pro.
I know there are other factors, such as USHL rights holders' style of play, and the players' tolerance for US school work. Both those things played a role in some 03s picking Q.
10 years ago, 99% of those kids stuck with CHL. Nowadays, the numbers are shifting a bit.
This is whole thread wasn't discussing whether it's a good option to go to one league over another. The point of this thread is that the dummy that published an article saying the Q is so far behind all the other leagues is just a joke. Even to say yhe Q is so weak it has become an afterthough? Completely false. Regarding which League to go to, it should totally be up to the kid and parents and should talk to their advisors to understand the pros and cons of both. The CHL isnt the wrong path for Americans, just as the NCAA isnt the wrong path for Canadians. Just diffrrent paths. Let's face it, many horror stories out there about kids hanging onto NCAA commitments only to get screwed in the end. Just sayin
Any my point was it doesn't matter. Argue all day but the leagues will never play each other so who cares what someone writes. What most on this board want to know is what's the best path for their kid and that is a one sided argument. Yes comittments are taken away but that doesn't mean the kid took the wrong path. It means they ended up not being good enough. Same goes for going up north. You only get one shot at it. There are no do-overs and the USHL/NCAA path gives you the most time and flexiblity to develop. Just sayin.
Most people come on the dboard to figure out what the best path is for their kid? Hahaha you're a clown. This is the last place in the world anyone should get advice on which path is best for their kid. Just sayin
Thanks wingnut but I didn't say people come here to figure out what path is best. I said people on here only care about which path is best. Niether league is around here. No one has a stake. No one cares how much you waive your pom poms for the Q. Bottom line is no one goes there because there is no reason to. Might be a good league but it's a ****ty path.
I did the math and QMJHL players get only about $12,000 per year in educational money combined from the QMJHL and their team. That's on top of the weekly money the players get. That seems low for USA standards, but you have to look at the cost of university in Canada. There are many excellent Canadian universities and typically the $12,000 will more than cover all schooling costs per year. On top of that, the universities typically offer full scholarships to the hockey players. Even though they already have their schooling paid for by the QMJHL. How this works in Canada is all funds are put into an educational account and once the schooling money is withdrawn by the university, the player can actually withdraw the extra money for his own spending purposes - usually about $15k per year. Completely different than NCAA rules obviously. Very good system and hockey players not only get a free education, but actually get paid to play for their university. As far as the level of hockey goes, it is excellent. Random Canadian University teams go down to New England each year and compete very well with Hockey East teams. Last year, the University of New Brunswick actually played and beat a couple of AHL teams. You can put down the CHL path all you want, but great hockey development and educational opportunities are available for players good enough to play at that level. Otherwise, the NCAA route will typically offer kids one or two-year scholarship, screw around with that quite a bit as well, and Kids come out of school owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's just ignorant to say that NCAA is the only logical path.
Thanks Bernie Sanders but you put so much misleading information in there it's not even worth responding to.
Too much info for you to absorb all in one sitting huh? Good info here and dispels a lot of inaccurate b.s. on the dboard.
What a BS artist. You conveniently left out that you get one year of education benefit for each year played, so unless you make a team at 16 you don't get four years of benefit. A US kid also is not a Canadian citizen so they don't get in country tuition. You also make it seem like kids would go there for the purposes of playing Canadian college hockey which you incorreclty imply that you also get a free ride. Not true. But if you get a free ride, you get to keep the CHL education money. Also not true. Spew all the nonsense you want but no one is going to the Q. Give it up.
The CHL is definitely the unconventional route for Americans just like the NCAA is the unconventional route for Canadians.
There are many more Canadian's going NCAA than their are American's going CHL and that gap is widening. Wonder why that is when you can go to the Q, play for five years, get paid while your playing, get paid while your going to school and school is free. Hmmm....
Maybe one reason for that is because there is no restriction about going back to play in the CHL once they've played in the NCAA. Many of those college players, both Canadian and American play for a year in the NCAA and after realizing it's not all it's cracked up to be, they had to the CHL for real development. Meaning, there's no risk in going the NCAA route. They can always go back.
Many? No not many.
The Q is the weakest in the CHL. Just ask any scout. Almost an afterthought. Oh, the Q has the top 2 ranked teams in the CHL, and 3 of the top 4 teams in the CHL? Yeah, but who puts these rankings together? Oh, the CHL. Crap.:sob: