clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Top Source Leagues for the NHL Draft

New, 1 comment
Getty Images


This one took me a bit longer than I anticipated.  For the years 2005-09, 45 different leagues have had a player chosen by a NHL team.  1076 total picks have been made, and of that group, Canadian Hockey League players (major junior) comprise a little over 46% of the total selections.  This in itself isn't surprising:  Canadian players make up around half of the NHL players in the league as a whole, and with somewhere around 80% of all CHL players being Canadian, such an outcome is not surprising.  Canadian trained players are also picked from the Junior A leagues (Canadian Junior A leagues and the United States Hockey League), as well as a couple from the NCAA.  American players are more spread out, with the largest number picked from high school leagues in Minnesota and New England. 

I'll have the per country breakdwons in the future, but here's a look at the raw totals by league after the jump:

Draft Picks By Source League (2005-09)
League 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
OHL (Major Jr) 42 30 35 46 45 198
WHL (Major Jr) 47 25 38 37 31 178
QMJHL (Major Jr) 23 24 25 27 23 122
USHS (NAHS/Midget) 18 19 15 15 19 86
USHL (Jr. A) 13 9 18 10 16 66
NAHL/USNTDP (Jr. A) 9 14 15 8 11 57
SEL (Euro Elite) 5 8 10 10 14 47
RSL/KHL (Euro Elite) 4 8 5 8 3 29
J20 SE (Euro Jr.) 8 4 3 6 6 27
BCHL (Jr. A) 4 3 7 6 5 25
SM-Liigga (Euro Elite) 5 7 4 4 3 23
CCHA (NCAA) 4 8 4 3 3 22
Cze/O2 Extra (Euro Elite) 6 6 2 2 2 18
OPJHL/OJHL (Jr. A) 1 3 5 5 3 17
Fin. Jrs. (Euro Jr.) 3 6 0 2 5 16
WCHA (NCAA) 4 3 2 3 2 14
Swe-1 (Euro Minor) 2 5 2 2 3 14
Rus-3 (Euro Jr.) 6 3 1 1 2 13
AJHL (Jr. A) 2 2 4 2 3 13
HE (NCAA) 2 5 2 2 2 13
ECAC (NCAA) 3 4 1 1 0 9
EJHL (Other Jr.) 5 0 1 1 1 8
DEL (Euro Elite) 1 2 3 1 1 8
Cze Jrs. (Euro Jr.) 4 2 0 0 0 6
Svk Extra (Euro Elite) 2 2 1 0 1 6
CJAHL (Jr. A) 0 0 0 3 3 6
USMAAA (NAHS/Midget) 1 0 1 1 2 5
RML (Euro Minor) 0 3 1 0 1 5
NLA (Euro Elite) 0 3 0 1 0 4
Svk Jrs. (Euro Jr.) 2 0 1 0 0 3
SJHL (Jr. A) 2 0 0 0 0 2
Swe-3 (Euro Minor) 0 1 0 1 0 2
GOJHL (Jr. A) 0 0 1 1 0 2
EEHL (Euro Jr.) 1 0 0 0 0 1
Can. HS (NAHS/Midget) 1 0 0 0 0 1
Atl JHL (Other Jr.) 0 1 0 0 0 1
KIJHL (Other Jr.) 0 1 0 0 0 1
LHL (Euro Minor) 0 1 0 0 0 1
Can. MAAA (NAHS/Midget) 0 1 0 0 0 1
Swiss-3 (Euro Jr.) 0 0 1 0 0 1
Ger Jrs. (Euro Jr.) 0 0 1 0 0 1
WOHL (Jr. A) 0 0 1 0 0 1
NY Jrs. (Other Jr.) 0 0 1 0 0 1
GET-ligaen (Euro Minor) 0 0 0 1 0 1
MJHL (Jr. A) 0 0 0 1 0 1

 

If you require an explanation of what a certain league is, feel free to leave the question in the comments.  Those leagues can be broken into more understandable generalizations, and I've done that as well.  The eight categories are: Major Junior, Junior A, European Elite, North American High School/Midget, European Junior, NCAA, European Minor Pro, and Other Junior leagues.  I've marked them as such above.  Here's the breakdown by category:

Level of Play 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
Major Junior 112 80 97 110 99 498
Jr. A Hockey 31 31 51 36 41 190
European Elite 23 37 25 26 24 135
N.A. High School/Midget 20 20 16 16 21 93
European Jr./Farm 24 15 7 9 13 68
NCAA 13 19 10 9 7 58
European Minor Pro 2 10 3 4 4 23
Other Junior 5 2 2 1 1 11

 

There has been some years where certain leagues were more popular than others, but it's a fairly even distribution throughout.  The NCAA has had less players picked directly from it, but that corresponds with a rise in Jr. A players being selected.  Jr. A players are eligible to become NCAA players, so what we're seeing is either players are getting selected earlier on in their development, or players are staying at the Jr. A level for an extra year or so before entering college at 19.  European Jr leagues have dropped off, and that can be seen with zero Czech/Slovak players taken from their Jr/Farm teams in the past two drafts.

There's a bit of a dilemma here for European prospects:  the scouts value the experience and competition level of the North American leagues, but the European countries that have the most success develop the majority of their own talent.  Obviously, for a player in Norway or Belarus, playing in your own national league is not a great way to get noticed.  But for a player from Czech Republic or Slovakia, their own leagues offer very little opportunity.  What's best for the individual (playing junior hockey in North America) may not be best for the collective here.  If we're looking for a threshold of junior competition that allows players to flourish, the Czech and Slovak programs have gone below that mark in recent years.  Finland, a hockey mad nation (second only to Canada, and not by a lot), probably has to look at alternatives as well, as they continue to underproduce elite talent.

EDIT:  Derek Zona broke down 1995-05 here, and was looking at success rates for NHL careers.  The conclusion was that the OHL, WHL, and NCAA were the safest bets for developing a NHL player.  It'd be interesting to see how this works out going forward.  Few are actually drafted after a NCAA season today, and more and more are being drafted out of Jr. A and high school before going to the NCAA (and sometimes major junior).