NAHL ranked #1 again by The Junior Hockey News
July 14, 2016
NAHL editors note: The following was a story posted on The Junior Hockey News website on July 14, 2016. Earlier, the site had ranked the three major junior leagues along with the USHL, which were placed in a different category (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 (246 and counting), along with five current players taken in the 2016 NHL Draft, which was the most for any Tier II junior or Canadian Junior A hockey league in both categories.
The following is the piece:
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 2015-16 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 continues to separate 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 more 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 is still an excellent development league and well scouted, it is simply not the marketing machine that the NAHL is. Distance between the BCHL and higher level programs limits scouting. With scouting geography being influenced by travel budgets, it is likely this trend will continue.
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 OJHL however only barely hung on to the #3 ranking as the CCHL, AJHL, NOJHL and another were right on their heals in voting.
The CCHL continues to position itself to become a top developer of players in Canada. While changes continue to take place in the league and development structure, things could be better, and the CCHL could have fallen to #7 if not for a few votes. While a great league, many people have begun to complain about recruiting practices of some teams.
A well run, well established league that is focused on developing players. Yet geography does inhibit scouting in the winter months. The AJHL continues to focus on development and it shows every year.
The NOJHL, featured more in season call ups to higher levels than any other Canadian Junior A or Tier II league. Yes, the NOJHL lead the entire country. With no expansion in 2016, all teams should grow stronger and those numbers should improve. The NOJHL has a lot of potential, if the owners can stop trying to do what they want, and start doing what the paying customers want, this league could take over Ontario.