USA Tops Junior Hockey Program World Ranking

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 08: Team USA goes through dryland training prior to playing against Team Sweden at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 8, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I've done this once before, and figured it was a good time to bring the updated version.  On the sidebar of this site, I have a Junior Hockey World Ranking, which is based on the results of the IIHF U18 and U20 World Championships of the past four years.  I use the same formula that the IIHF uses to determine their annual World Rankings, and combine the results of the U18 and U20 tournaments evenly to get this ranking. 

The Americans are the most consistent performers by this combined measure, thanks to their domination of the U18 level.  Americans are producing top prospects through multiple developmental systems, taking advantage of opportunties in the Canadian Hockey League as well as strengthening their own junior leagues such as the United States Hockey League (an excellent developmental league), which preps players for the NCAA system.  The US National Team Development Program, directly responsible for the Americans U18 team, is now being modeled by other nations for their own programs. 

That said, this ranking is based on the small sample sizes of the tournaments themselves, which is why I include NHL Draft Picks, plus players that are picked in the top two rounds for reference (although that measure is woefully deficient for Russia, for example). Draft picks are for the past five NHL drafts, from 2007-11, while 2012 tournament hosts are in bold.

Rank Country U18 (Rank) U20 (Rank) Points Draft Picks Top 2 Rounds 2012 U20s Up/Down
1 United States 2980 (1) 2825 (2) 5805 281 79 Group B -
2 Sweden 2835 (2) 2810 (4) 5645 104 37 Group A +1
3 Russia 2815 (3) 2820 (3) 5635 42 14 Group A +1
4 Canada 2700 (5) 2930 (1) 5630 509 150 Group B -2
5 Finland 2720 (4) 2595 (5) 5315 38 7 Group B -
6 Switzerland 2530 (6) 2585 (6) 5115 8 4 Group A +1
7 Czech Republic 2510 (7) 2535 (7) 5045 26 5 Group A -1
8 Slovakia 2425 (9) 2515 (8) 4940 14 4 Group B -
9 Germany 2465 (8) 2340 (10) 4805 13 0 Div. 1A -
10 Latvia 2310 (11) 2355 (9) 4665 1 0 Group A -
11 Norway 2340 (10) 2250 (11) 4590 6 0 Div. 1A +2
12 Denmark 2225 (12) 2225 (12) 4450 6 3 Group B -

 

Canada's U20 performance has been great, but the country hasn't been able to translate their depth into as much success at the U18 level recently.  Obviously, the CHL playoffs play a major role, but one must also note that playing on home ice in the U20s as often as they do helps a lot in that tournament.  Sweden consitently reaching the semifinals gets them to second place, but they really need to win one of these tournaments sometime soon.  Switzerland is now solidly ahead of the Czechs, although part of that has to do with favourable draws in recent tournaments, including this next one. 

The rankings for the less gifted hockey countries are after the jump.

Rank Country U18 (Rank) U20 (Rank) Points Draft Picks Top 2 Rounds 2012 U20s Up/Down
13 Belarus 2205 (13) 2160 (14) 4365 2 0 Div. 1A -2
14 Kazakhstan 2020 (16) 2095 (16) 4115 0 0 Div. 1B -
15 Austria 1870 (21) 2215 (13) 4085 0 0 Div. 1A -
16 Slovenia 1890 (20) 2095 (15) 3985 0 0 Div. 1A +3
17 Italy 1920 (19) 2000 (17) 3920 1 0 Div. 1B +1
18 France 2000 (17) 1830 (19) 3830 1 1 Div. 1B -1
19 Japan 2035 (14) 1795 (22) 3830 0 0 Div. 1B +2
20 Poland 2030 (15) 1750 (23) 3780 0 0 Div. 1B -4
21 Hungary 1980 (18) 1680 (25) 3660 0 0 Div. 2A -1
22 Great Britain 1810 (22) 1800 (20) 3610 0 0 Div. 1A +2
23 Ukraine 1700 (24) 1850 (18) 3550 0 0 Div. 2A -1
24 Lithuania 1695 (25) 1730 (24) 3425 0 0 Div. 2A -1
25 Croatia 1490 (28) 1800 (21) 3290 0 0 Div. 1B -
26 South Korea 1760 (23) 1450 (28) 3210 0 0 Div. 2A -
27 The Netherlands 1515 (27) 1535 (26) 3050 0 0 Div. 2A -
28 Romania 1560 (26) 1365 (30) 2925 0 0 Div. 2B +1
29 Spain 1395 (30) 1450 (27) 2845 0 0 Div. 2A +1
30 Estonia 1405 (29) 1425 (29) 2830 0 0 Div. 2B -2
31 Belgium 1305 (31) 1360 (31) 2665 0 0 Div. 2B -
32 Serbia 1295 (32) 1135 (34) 2430 0 0 Div. 2B -
33 China 1235 (33) 1180 (32) 2415 0 0 Div. 3 -
34 Mexico 1055 (37) 1180 (33) 2235 0 0 Div. 2B -
35 Australia 1145 (34) 925 (35) 2070 0 0 Div. 2B -
36 Iceland 1095 (35) 915 (36) 2010 0 0 Div. 3 -
37 New Zealand 1085 (36) 755 (37) 1840 0 0 Div. 3 -
38 Turkey 885 (39) 720 (38) 1605 0 0 Div. 3 -
39 Chinese Taipei 935 (38) 590 (41) 1525 0 0 - +1
40 Bulgaria 855 (41) 660 (40) 1515 0 0 Div. 3 -1
41 South Africa 860 (40) 90 (43) 950 0 0 - -
42 North Korea 0 700 (39) 700 0 0 - +4
43 Israel 695 (42) 0 695 0 0 - -1
44 Mongolia 685 (43) 0 685 0 0 - -1
45 Ireland 670 (44) 0 670 0 0 - -1
46 Armenia 65 (45) 100 (42) 165 0 0 - -1

 

I'll be covering the lower tournaments here, as the Division 1 and 2 levels run Dec. 11-18, while Div. 3 goes in the new year.

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