Advantages of Playing in the CHL vs NCAA
Updated: May 26, 2019
The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is the governing body of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Both the CHL and NCAA have benefits to playing in their leagues but what are the benefits? Lets take a look at both league benefits:
Advantages of playing in the WHL OHL QMJHL
1) NHL SCOUTS:
Regardless of what route a prospect takes (US College or the CHL) they will be evaluated by NHL Scouts at some point. Saying that, the exposure the WHL, OHL and QMJHL gets to NHL Scouts is "UNBELIEVABLE"! There are at least 5 to 20 NHL Scouts at EVERY WHL, OHL AND QMJHL game. In addition, the WHL, OHL and QMJHL in conjunction with the CHL showcase a prospect game featuring the best draft eligible prospects for the NHL Scouts. This event is attended by every GM and every Director of Amateur Scouting in the NHL. In total there is upwards of 100 NHL personnel that attend this Showcase game.
2) IT IS THE HIGHEST LEVEL POSSIBLE FOR A 16 OR 17-YEAR-OLD PLAYER TO PLAY IN: From a hockey perspective ONLY, a high end 16/17-year-old player (one of the better players in the age group) has no choice but to play in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL if he wants to maintain his advantage over the rest of his age group. Testing yourself against the best players in your age group and beyond (17, 18, 19, and 20-year-old players) is the ONLY way to further your HOCKEY DEVELOPMENT! A 16/17-year-old player (it is rare for a player to fast track academically because of the demands that School and hockey place on the prospect) cannot play US College hockey until they graduate from Grade 12 (18 Years old).
3) THE CHL IS THE NUMBER ONE DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE IN THE WORLD:
In the last 4 years of the NHL Draft 408 WHL, OHL and QMJHL players were selected in the 7 Rounds....that's 48% of all 843 Drafted players.
4) A HEAVY CONCENTRATION OF DIVISION/CONFERENCE GAMES:
The WHL plays 72 games, OHL plays 68 games and the QMJHL plays a 68 game schedule. Many of these games are played in a short period of time i.e. 3 games in 3 nights, much like the NHL schedule. Most of these games are Division/ Conference games (less travel). Trips are generally short.
5) CHL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM:
Every WHL, OHL and QMJHL team is responsible for covering room and board, tuition and books while the player is playing in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL. If a player graduates from High School while he is still playing in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL it is in his best interest to attend a College/ University. The reason being, the team is still responsible for paying the full freight. The Education package that you agreed to with the team takes effect AFTER you leave the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
Advantages of playing NCAA
1) GETTING A POST SECONDARY EDUCATION AND PLAYING HIGH LEVEL HOCKEY: The value of a University Degree cannot be understated. In addition to getting a Degree, the Student Athlete has an opportunity to play high level hockey. That alone is a powerful incentive to play US College hockey. There is an old adage that says it’s better to hit 2 birds with one stone. US College Hockey definitely does that.
2) HIGHER PRACTICE TO GAME RATIO.\:
There is a 2:1 practice to game ratio in US College hockey. This gives the Student Athlete more time to develop not only their skills but the opportunity to develop the finer points of each individual’s game i.e. their weaknesses. Not nearly enough time is focused on specialty work to improve the individual. The excuse that is often used by Coaches is "we have no time, you will have to go to Hockey School for that". Therefore, the bulk of the practice sessions are focused on Team Systems and Strategies. US College Hockey "has the time" to focus on both solitudes: the team...and the individual.
3) LONGER TIME TO DEVELOP:
Generally speaking, it takes the Student Athlete 4 years to attain a University Degree. The Physical, Mental, Intellectual, Social, and Emotional development that occurs during those 4 years can be quite profound not only academically but athletically (Hockey). In essence you enter College as a boy/girl and finish as a man/woman. The best part of it all is if you don't turn Pro you still have a College Degree.
4) A FASTER BRAND OF HOCKEY:
College Hockey is widely regarded as a "skater’s league." Meaning, if you can't fly, it will be extremely difficult for you to play. As a result, size is less of a factor. The NHL game is moving more and more towards speed and skill.... two elements that are highlighted in US College Hockey.
5) PRIMARILY A WEEKEND LEAGUE:
95% of all US College hockey games are played on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. This leaves the Student Athlete ample time to allocate towards their academics. It also gives parents and loved ones the opportunity to watch as many games as they want... providing they want to drive and don't work on the weekends.
6) OLDER LEAGUE:
The Student Athletes in US College hockey are older (generally between 18-24 years of age). For the most part the players are stronger and physically more mature. In essence, US College hockey is a league for men/women. It is less of an adjustment for a US College player (from a strength perspective) to play in the NHL (providing he's good enough) because he is used to playing against men.