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. A leagues history does not come into account in any way.
The criteria that was used in rating these four leagues, was how do teams within the leagues compare when developing players who move on to the NHL, NCAA, and Canadian University hockey programs.
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. A. The Ontario Hockey League.
Last year, the OHL was nearly a unanimous winner as the top junior hockey development league in the world. This year, it ended up being TIED. When you combine the volume of players that move on to the NHL and Canadian University it is simply an overwhelming statement of success.
Dominating the first round of the NHL draft, the OHL again made its attempt to claim sole possession to the top spot on our list.
1. B. The United States Hockey League.
Last year the USHL placed second. This season voting was tied with the OHL.
All scouts were quick to cite the additional development time that the USHL affords players while moving them on to NCAA programs. Scouts also expressed that the ability to place a player in the American Hockey League directly from the USHL as a development benefit.
Citing the direct correlation with USHL – NCAA – and leading all groups in the amount of NHL free agent signings carried a significant impact on the voting.
Thirty seven current, and ten former USHL players, only three of which left for major junior were drafted.
2. The Western Hockey League.
Scouts were quick to note that the WHL produces some top end talent. Of note were the comments on how the WHL has improved it offensive player development when the league has been known for defensive player development. The WHL was also noted for its players who later go on to play Canadian University and how well the league has done in encouraging players to do so.
3. The Quebec Major Junior League.
The QMJHL produces great hockey players, many NHL Hall of Fame players have come from the league in years past. The one constant comment concerning the league dealt with talent depth, and the disparity in volume of players moving on to the NHL and university.
Next week we will publish the results of rating Canadian Junior A and the North American Hockey League.