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.
A well run, well established league that is focused on developing players. Yet geography does inhibit scouting in the winter months.
The SJHL was nearly neck and neck with the AJHL for the same reasons they have success, they also struggle with scouting in the winter months.
7 . NOJHL
The NOJHL, slipped a little from last year though expansion and a higher profile in Canada should lead to more development success in 2015. Hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup will also likely add to its scouting profile.
8. Manitoba Junior Hockey League
While some teams actively try to promote players, others do not. The disparity between top development teams and others is so great that scouts are limiting there trips to view teams.
9. Maritime Junior Hockey League
While known as a very competitive league, few teams are spending the resources needed to move players on.
10. Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League
A very good league that unfortunately does little to try to move players up.
The haves and the have nots. This is the only way to describe Canada’s smallest Junior A league. Little marketing of players league wide leads to little exposure and player movement.
Next week TJHN will examine Canadian Junior B.