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Thread: Comparing the strength of the leagues

  1. #1
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    Comparing the strength of the leagues

    If I was to make a top 10 list of the best leagues, who would fill it?

    The reason I ask is I tried Googling the question and my only results were an outdated top 10 from several years back, a page where the US and Canadian Internet commenters seemed to believe everything outside North America was trash, and an NA page where the AHL was no. 2 and the OHL no. 4 in their rankings. Is that just regional bias or are the leagues actually that good?

    Given my lack of knowledge, I am assuming the following:

    1. NHL No explanation needed
    2. KHL I'm guessing for strength in depth as well as money?
    3. AHL Because what is basically NHL division 2 is still bound to be good?

    After this, though, I get muddled - I'm assuming Czech Rep., Sweden, Finland (possibly Switzerland?) are on kind of an equal footing, and that national bias is the only thing really separating them, so a Swede is bound to say the SHL is the best of the bunch, for example.

    Also, would the top 10 include second-tier leagues other than AHL such as the Allsvenskan, or is North America unique in that regard?

  2. #2
    IHF Member pcal226's Avatar
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    Like you said there's all sorts of bias and other things that go into it. I would go: NHL, KHL, AHL as a Top 3. The AHL and KHL are probably pretty close. The KHL probably has more top-end talent, but across the board they're probably pretty even. After that, in no particular order, I think the SHL (Sweden), Liiga (Finland), Extraliga (Czech Rep.), DEL (Germany), NLA (Switzerland), and the ECHL would round out the Top 9. I think one of the Major Junior leagues or maybe NCAA DI hockey could round out the Top 10, whichever league it is would be no higher than 10th though. The CHL and NCAA get a lot of attention for the stars they produce, but I'm confident that they would still be beaten by any of the pro leagues I mentioned. Some of the European B leagues are pretty good too. Allsvenskan and the Russian VHL in particular. The Austrian EBEL isn't bad either.

    This is a question your never going to find a definitive answer to, but those first 9 leagues would, in some order, make up the Top 9 at least in my opinion.

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    Partly joke but maybe not:

    1. SHL (Hockey Champions League winner);
    2. Liiga (Out of 4 Top clubs 2 was from Liiga);
    3. NLA (They loose usually to SHL and Liiga clubs in Champions league);
    4. NHL (Remember Victoria Cup, Black Hawks and ZSC Lions);
    5. KHL (Strong enough, but KHL clubs loose to NLA clubs usually in Spengler);
    6. Czech Extraliga;
    7. DEL;
    8. AHL might be here (Americans took last place in Spengler Cup below clubs from leagues mentioned above);
    9. EBEL (Austria), Extraliga Slovakia, BOL (Belorussia), Norway, Magnus France somewhere here;
    10. VHL, Allsvenskan, Italy, EIHL Great Britain.

    The rest are below this level including Danmark, Latvia, OHL, Kazakhstan, MOL, Mestis.
    I will not mention other more exotic clubs from different leagues usually participating in first rounds of Continental Cup.

  4. #4
    IHF Staff Steigs's Avatar
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    *sigh* let's make this clear for starters: this discussion has been had many times. Nobody will ever agree on an individual ranking of leagues. What we can do is look at games between clubs in various leagues and try to establish which leagues are at a similar level.

    NHL is tops. This is indisputable.
    KHL is second, mostly due to the money involved there.
    I think that SHL has proven in the past couple years of Champions League that they are the next league,
    and Liiga sits right up there with them.
    After this it gets a bit muddled. Czech Extraliga, NLA, DEL and AHL are probably all relatively even. The latter might have better depth, but the three former definitely will have the top clubs among the four leagues.
    EBEL, Slovak Extraliga are roughly even here I think.
    Then it's a crapshoot.

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    [QUOTE=Steigs;281145 What we can do is look at games between clubs in various leagues and try to establish which leagues are at a similar level.
    [/QUOTE]

    This is one really good factor. Fully agree with you on that. Let's take just this one - strength of the clubs of each league and as evaluation measure official games (not friendlies as these are not usually played serious for win) between clubs of each league. Throw away all other factors like finance/money, depth of league etc.

    [QUOTE=Steigs;281145

    NHL is tops. This is indisputable.
    [/QUOTE]

    Let's start with this - I think this is very much disputable! Go on post any official games between NHL clubs and clubs from other leagues in recent years.

    On quick note I can remember only two Victoria Cup games:

    New York Rangers (NHL) - Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL) 4:3
    Zurich ZSC Lions (NLA) - Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) 2:1

    These gives NLA 3rd place, NHL 4th place and KHL 5th place in ranking. So far - correct. Maybe I missed some more official tornament games - this could change ranking - go on post them here!

  6. #6
    IHF Staff Marc Brunengraber's Avatar
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    While there is no definitive ranking, experts have done studies using various factors....player performance across leagues, exhibition matchups, salaries, etc. Plus players themselves who have played across the leagues have been asked for their evaluations. And again, while there is no 100% firm consensus, most experts would likely rank them, at the moment, as follows:

    NHL (no serious argument here - has most of the world's top players and coaches, and offers the highest salaries and benefits)
    KHL
    SEL-LIIGA-AHL-NLA (all roughly equivalent)
    CZECH EXTRALIGA-DEL (")
    EBEL-ALLSVENSKAN-SLOVAK EXTRALIGA (")

  7. #7
    IHF Staff Trim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Brunengraber View Post
    NHL (no serious argument here - has most of the world's top players and coaches, and offers the highest salaries and benefits)
    I think there could certainly be an argument against the NHL having the world's top coaches. That's not a slight against any NHL coach but we see very few European-trained coaches in the NHL. There are certainly some great hockey minds on the Old Continent. It's easier to stay in the native culture, language, and press than to venture away with the risk of failure being blamed on inability to adjust to the rink size.

    The AHL is clearly better than the NHL. The MVP of the NHL All-Star Game was a largely anonymous AHL player....
    Bringing ice hockey to Northwest China!

    I'm the hole formerly known as KazakhEagles

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