Other Hockey Leagues

The NHL may be the biggest and most popular professional hockey league in the world, but there are still lots of other leagues out there and around the world that have a huge fan base, and not just in the countries they play in. It is widely known that less than half of the hockey players that play in the NHL even come from Canada. Now the professional hockey players come all over the world because there are so many other leagues in other countries, and really young players aspire and work hard to get to the NHL.

One of the top leagues in the world is the American Hockey League (AHL) and it's where young player's play. The NHL scouts will look and keep track of prospects in hopes of finding the next Wayne Gretzky. That's why as of 2010-2011, every NHL team has had an affiliation with an AHL team and the league continues to provide quality mentoring for up and coming NHL talent.

Then there is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and over the years has delivered some great hockey players to the NHL. Some of the great players you might recognize like the big time NHL Hall of Famers such as Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Patrick Roy who all played in "The Q" and all has had spectacular careers in the NHL. Even Sidney Crosby came up through the QMJHL and he has had a great career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Each league is known for their strengths, for example the QMJHL league is definitely one of the most exciting junior hockey leagues in Canada and has brought up mainly offensive players. The league has captured the Memorial Cup trophy 3 times since 2000 and remains one of the most exciting leagues for hockey in North America.

In Europe there is the National League A (NLA) - Based in Switzerland. The NLA has one of the best attendance figures for European hockey clubs as they games are very exciting to watch. The NLA consists of 12 teams that play a total of 50 games in a season, with the top eight teams qualifying for the playoffs. There is the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - The Ontario Hockey League which has produced some of the best players the NHL has ever seen like the "Great One" Wayne Gretzky in addition to Eric Lindros and Bobby Orr. As far as what kind of players come from this league, the OHL consistently produces players that are all-around skilled players, meaning the are good on all positions.

In Eastern Europe, the popular leagues is the Slovak Extraliga (Tipsport Extraliga) - which was founded in 1993 after Czechoslovakia split up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Slovakian league is only consists of 10 teams, but the league has an interesting aspect to it as it allows the Slovakian U20 Junior team to play in some regular season games. From the Nordic countries there are strong leagues like the SM-liiga - Finland's top professional ice-hockey league and is regarded by the IIHF as the second strongest league in all of Europe. The SM-liiga league also contributes a considerable amount of pro talent to the NHL and produces some of Finland's most highly touted prospects.

Staying within the Nordic countries, there is the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League "SEL") - which is composed of 12 teams that play a 55 game schedule. Historically, some of the best players in the NHL have come from Sweden like Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel & Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen over the years have been contributing at a high level in the NHL.

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is widely considered the No. 2 pro hockey league to the NHL. The KHL is regarded as the strongest ice-hockey league in all of Europe and what makes it unique is that Russian players constitute the majority of players in the league. The KHL is so interesting is that it holds a variety of players from different backgrounds and countries making it truly international. There are currently a total of 701 KHL players from 14 different countries and that's with 24 teams in the league. Make sure you keep coming back to find out more about international hockey leagues here at Team NHL. You never know when the next great player will come from one of these leagues.