July 16, 2015
NAHL editor note: The following was a piece posted on The Junior Hockey News website on July 16, 2015. Earlier, the site had ranked the three major junior leagues along with the USHL, which were placed in a different catagory (see that ranking here). Being the only USA Hockey Tier II junior league in the United States, the NAHL was compared to all the Canadian Junior 'A' leagues, which operate under a similar, but in some cases not the same, model as the NAHL. Canada still classifies its junior hockey as Major Junior, Junior A, B, C and so on.
The NAHL is coming off another record-breaking season in which it saw a new record set for the number of NCAA commitments in one season, along with seven players taken in the 2015 NHL Draft, as well as, the league's fifth straight season with one million+ fans through the turnstyles.
The following is the piece:
The Junior Hockey News: 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 2014-2015 season and nothing more.
The criteria that was used in rating these eleven leagues, was how do teams within the leagues compare when developing players who move on to the NHL, NCAA, Canadian University, the USHL and Major Junior hockey programs. The size of the league as in number of teams was also taken into account for depth of player talent throughout the league. THIS IS NOT TO BE SEEN AS A DESCRIPTION OR STATMENT ON ANY LEAGUE LEVEL OF COMPETITION.
Again this is not a historical account of each league but a rating based upon last season alone. We hope this series of articles is informative and promotes a healthy discussion.
1. The NAHL
The NAHL has separated itself from all other Tier II leagues when it comes to marketing players to higher levels of hockey. While it is not the USHL, many teams are now actively doing work to move players on. The Blaine Showcase and NAHL draft are clearly two key items that raise the NAHL scouting profile above all others.
The BCHL while still an excellent development league and well scouted, is simply not the marketing machine that the NAHL is. Promoting players is a staple of the league, yet a change in scouting budgets and a switch to more US born scouts has lead to new trends.
The OJHL in its talent depth and location to scouts clearly gives them an advantage over many others outside of Ontario. Southern Ontario is still producing and developing many talented players moving on to higher levels.
The CCHL is positioning itself to become a top developer of players in Canada. The Carleton Place Candians are setting the bar high for all other CCHL programs and all other Junior A programs in Canada.
Read the rest of the rankings and story here