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Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues – USHL, Major Junior And Europe

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 2023-2024 season and nothing more.

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.  The United States Hockey League.

The USHL has retained the number one ranking for the 2023-2024 season. Simply put, the USHL is out producing every other league when developing NHL draft picks, NCAA players, and alumni who after playing NCAA go on to sign NHL free agent contracts.

2. The Ontario Hockey League.

With 39 players taken in the NHL draft, the OHL made a statement to the rest of Canada. They are the top league in Major Junior Hockey, and while the others are good, the OHL just does things a little better.

3. The Western Hockey League

The WHL lands at the number 3 position. Barely missing the number two spot, the WHL is improving every year. With 34 players taken in the NHL draft, including some kid named Connor taken number one overall, the WHL keeps making powerful development statements.

4. Russia

The Russian development model is once again proving to be one of the best in the world. The 2024 NHL draft was another example of how good the hockey is in Russia. With 26 players taken in the 2024 NHL entry draft the VHL and MHL are proving to be excellent sources for talent.

5. Finland

This is the first year Finland has made our list. With 18 players taken from the Finnish junior leagues, it is easy to see why players from North America and other European countries are seeing it as a viable develpment path.

6. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The QMJHL while producing good hockey players, is not producing the number of NHL players it once did. The league is definitely falling behind others in North America.

7. Sweden

The Swedish development system is full of young talent. Taking the best of with the United States and Candian Development models offered, and adding their own elements, Sweden is developing many of the NHL’s future stars.

8. Czech Republic

13 players selected in the NHL draft of 2024 they continue developing highly skilled offensive players, the Czech game has evolved to one of the more physical leagues in the world resembling a North American pro game more closely than other European leagues.

9. Slovakia

Slovakia is a small country, with a small population, but everyone in the country follows hockey, and every year more and more players are getting looked at.

10. Norway

Norway made the list this year after an impressive showing at the NHL draft and several IIHF events. A small country with a growing hockey base, Norway may be making noise in years to come.

Next week we will publish the results of rating Canadian Junior A and Tier II in the United States.

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