NAHL once again ranked #1 by The Junior Hockey News
July 12, 2017
With a record-breaking 280 NCAA commitments and counting during the 2016-17 season, the NAHL is once again ranked the #1 Tier II or Junior A league in the United States and Canada.
NAHL editors note: The following was a story posted on The Junior Hockey News website on July 12, 2017.
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 (280 and counting), along with three current players taken in the 2017 NHL Draft.
The following is the editorial:
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 2016-2017 season and nothing more.
The criteria that was used in rating these 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.
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 to the USHL. An official development agreement being worked upon between the NAHL and USHL has continued to improve the NAHL product.
The BCHL is still one of the top development leagues in the world and is well scouted. The BCHL lags behind the NAHL in player development volume and marketing reach. With NCAA scouting geography being influenced by travel budgets, the BCHL must make some changes to its player promotion system in order to maintain a hold on its standing.
A well run, well established league that is focused on developing players. This year the development of defenseman Cale Makar played a large role in the increased scouting presence. It will be incumbent upon the AJHL to take advantage of the 2017 season moving forward into 2018.
The OJHL can thank its geography and proximity to scouts for their advantage over other leagues. The OJHL is still producing and developing many talented players moving on to higher levels. The OJHL barely hung on to a top five ranking as other leagues are on their heals. Rising pay to play costs in many instances are to blame for chasing talent away to other leagues.
5. Manitoba Junior Hockey League
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League clearly made some changes and increased their player promotional efforts for the 2016-2017 season. While not producing the volume of some other leagues the quality of player being developed was seen as being higher than in the past. If this continues forward, the geographic challenges facing the league could be minimized.
The CCHL continues to be a top developer of players in Canada. While changes continue to take place in the league and development structure, things could be better. While a great league, complaints regarding rising player fee’s continue to grow in number.
The SJHL has risen in their effort to promote players upward. While a focus on winning games within their league is still the priority, leadership worked harder last season to get more scouts involved. The SJHL should continue to improve their standing with this new effort that is player centered.
The NOJHL, once again 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. The NOJHL has a lot of potential, and has positioned itself to become a development leader. The question remaining to be answered is do they want to be an NCAA development league or a Major Junior development league. Until that question is answered in one voice the league will hold itself back.