Many people have questioned why TJHN has supported the USPHL in its bid for independence and the NCDC as a Tier II option. Frankly, there have been times when I questioned things, and I think that questioning things is a healthy way to view every league.
TJHN as a publication supports the USHL, NAHL and EHL as well as other leagues and teams that demonstrate the ability to develop players. Development is the name of the game in junior hockey, and it is the only thing that matters. These leagues, to name a few, demonstrate that ability daily.
The USPHL is a massive organization. It is the largest in the country when accounting for junior and other amateur levels. Like all leagues, players come and go. Unlike all leagues though, the USPHL can lay claim to a number of NHL prospects they have helped develop along the way.
19 players with USPHL ties were named to the NHL Players To Watch List. That’s an impressive number by any standard.
Two of these players are currently in the NCDC conference of the USPHL. In only its second season, the NCDC has two players on this list.
With two NCDC players on that list, and nine other players currently within the USPHL system also listed, we can see a few things clearly;
First, the NHL is watching the NCDC and all of the USPHL. When some would say that being independent is a bad thing and no one watches the USPHL, it is clear that those people do not know what they are talking about.
Second, it clearly shows that there are some great development programs within the USPHL family.
It is easy to recognize other leagues who also have proven records for development. The USHL, NAHL and EHL are excellent development pathways.
It is not so easy though to recognize those who dare to be different. Different does not mean “perfect”. Different does not mean “always better”. Different in this case means simply offering players a choice.
Like all leagues with players on this NHL list, the USPHL deserves to be recognized in an unbiased manner for its players achievements.