Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues – 2019 Tier III Edition

2018-2019 was another year of Tier III trouble.  The year of massive collapse and a banner year for the Death Pool here on TJHN.  Once again, we expect this trend to continue as long as league leaders continue to expand this ridiculously over saturated market.

The criteria that was used in rating these seven leagues, was how do teams within the leagues compare when developing players who move on to the NHL, NCAA, USHL, NAHL, and Canada Junior A 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. The level of promotion of commitments was also taken into account for this particular rating.

1. Eastern Hockey League

The EHL, was for the third year in a row the top producer of NCAA prospects at the Tier III level. The EHL also continued to move players on to Tier II when those opportunities were presented. The EHL lead all Tier III leagues in NCAA D-3 and D-2 placements. The EHL has defined itself as the leader in NCAA placements at the D-3 level and embraces that definition. This is the absolute best way to market themselves and it shows.

2. USPHL – Premier

The USPHL, comes in second place again for the 2018-2019 season. Showing that the NCDC Tier II division of the operation is using the USPHL Premier as its development pool has proven to be a recipe for success. The number of Tier II players coming out of the USPHL increases every year and is a testament to great coaching. USPHL showcases continue to see a rise in the number of scouts attending as they continue to develop their marketing and branding across multiple classifications.

3. USPHL – Elite

The USPHL Elite has become a very nice development platform for the USPHL Premier, and is now being used for some NCDC development.  Purposefully younger than the Premier division, this is definitely a league designed for younger players or those who want junior hockey but are not satisfied with their AAA options.

4. EHLP

The EHLP, the U19 division under the EHL is becoming a great place for future EHL players to develop. Younger and a little less experienced, EHLP players are seeing their efforts pay off in moves up to the EHL, and moves to Tier II. The EHLP is clearly making the most of its geography for scouting and its affiliations with higher level programs.

5. NA3HL

The NA3HL continues to fade. Gimmicks and the manipulation of alleged development numbers have made the league less desirable every year. Rebranding of failed franchises and relocation of clearly poorly operated franchises is simply embarrassing. This is not a league of opportunity but is a league where careers simply end.

6. CPJHL

In its third year, the CPJHL continued to have some issues like every other league ever started. More players are finding their way up the development ladder each year though, and the talent level is definitely going up every year. The CPJHL is very close to the NA3HL now and could overtake them by years end. Restraint on expansion has allowed the CPJHL to focus on creating a deeper talent pool, and more players are showing their potential.

7. GMHL

The Greater Metro Hockey League is once again for the third year running, the worst league in North America. Congratulations.  What does it say about a league when they absorb a failed league out west in the WPHA? It says they are trying to call elephant excrement chocolate cake and they are asking you to eat it. Stick a candle in it and its still elephant shit with a candle.

Next week we will publish our top twenty all inclusive list covering all levels of junior hockey. Where will your league fit in?