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Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues – NAHL & Canadian Junior A Competition And Talent Levels

For purposes of this series of ratings, we asked scouts to rate the leagues based upon what they saw during the 2013-2014 season.  This is not a historical account of each league as some have been around much longer than others.  This is not a projection of where a league may be seen for the 2014-2015 season.

These ratings are NOT based on player movement up or down.  These ratings take into account the general talent levels in the leagues, the competition levels, and player depth.

These ratings are independent, and no one at TJHN participated.  For purposes of this rating we have limited the results to the top five leagues out of the eleven that could have been rated.  This was done to simplify the process.  Because a league is not rated within the top five does not mean that they did not receive votes to be included in the top five.  All Tier II or Junior A leagues in the United States and Canada offer tremendous opportunity for all players to compete and develop their talents.

It was interesting to note the differences in how scouts saw the talent and competition levels compared to how they saw the promotion levels.

1.  TIE NAHL and BCHL

The NAHL and BCHL were seen to be the two deepest leagues for talent and competition.  This was a tie, and each league received credit for their differences that make them so deep.

What the scouts said;

“The NAHL has become one of the best leagues in North America.  While some teams take different development approaches between youth and experience, the over all depth makes this one league you have to keep an eye on.  They market their events like no other league in the world, and the coaching just keeps getting better.  Having an unlimited amount of 20 yr. old players available to every roster, allows some late bloomers a chance to shine when they may be forced down from Canadian Junior A.”

“The BCHL is deep, and they still maintain their youth, giving players time to mature physically and mentally.  With the removal of provincial recruiting boundaries, some of the top players in Canada will continue to gravitate to the league.  You really could interchange the top BCHL teams with top NAHL teams and have one hell of a league that would come close to some USHL teams.”

2.  Alberta Junior Hockey League

The AJHL ran very close to the NAHL and BCHL.  The league was seen as being extremely competitive and did receive a number of votes for being in the top two.

What the scouts said;

“The AJ is highly competitive, and your top line guys can play in any league.  Some have made the move to the BC and OJ lately because of scouting, but the league itself is deep in talent as well as coaching.”

3.  Ontario Junior Hockey League

The OJHL was once again commended for contraction within the league over the previous few years, and received some votes to be in the top two.  The general opinion is that the league helped their talent depth and competition levels by doing so.

What the scouts said;

“If I am looking for a late commit, I don’t have to go far to have my pick of a bunch of players ageing out that have the talent to compete right away at the NCAA level.  After the USHL, BC and NA its my “go to” league for getting players that are physically and mentally prepared.”

4.  CCHL

The CCHL also garnered votes to be in the top three.  The league was noted for having the ability to recruit from Quebec and Ontario while keeping a condensed travel footprint that kept players fresh on road trips.

“Its one of the oldest leagues in the country and only recently are some scouts figuring out how good the players are.  When you see big time NCAA programs at every game, and kids going to schools and being more than role players, that too me shows just how good the hockey is.  Its only going to get better every year.”

Next week TJHN will examine Canadian Junior B.

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