The NHL is arguably one of the most popular and top hockey leagues in the world in terms of viewership, fanbase, and talent. Top players globally aspire to play in the NHL and win the legendary Stanley Cup. However, the hockey league is not an exclusive North American confederation, as many European-based leagues also keep developing talent. In this discussion, we explore the major hockey leagues in the world. Read on;
National Hockey League (NHL)
The National Hockey League, or NHL, is North America’s professional ice hockey league. It was founded in 1917 as a successor to the National Hockey Association. Today, it comprises 30 teams from the United States and Canada. The NHL’s regular season runs from October to April, and each team plays 82 games.
The NHL is widely considered the premier professional ice hockey league worldwide. The playoffs, which are single-elimination tournaments, are held in May and June. The Stanley Cup, the league’s championship trophy, is awarded to the winning team of the NHL odds playoffs.
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) was established in 1980 and is among the world’s best junior hockey leagues. It consists of 20 clubs, seventeen of which are headquartered in Ontario, Canada, 3 in Michigan, and one in Pennsylvania.
The OHL is primarily regarded as the premier development league for NHL prospects, with many of its players going on to have successful professional careers. Each club may have players aged between 16 and 21 on its roster who play 68 games throughout the season, from September to April.
American Hockey League (AHL)
The American Hockey League is the major developing league of the National Hockey League (NHL). It’s a professional ice hockey league based in the U.S. and Canada. It debuted in 1936 with just seven teams and has subsequently expanded to include 32 clubs throughout North America. Twenty-six teams are in the U.S., while six are in Canada.
The AHL offers a high level of competition for young players and a stepping stone to the NHL for those wishing to advance their skills. It has also been a popular destination for veteran players trying to prolong their careers. As a result, the league has become an essential component of the North American hockey scene.
Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL)
The Deutsche Eishockey Liga, or DEL, is Germany’s highest professional ice hockey league. The DEL was established in 1994 and now includes 15 teams from across the nation. Each club plays 52 games throughout the season, from September to April. The top four teams then progress to the playoffs to win the German title.
The DEL is primarily regarded as one of Europe’s most significant leagues, producing several NHL players throughout the years. Almost one-third of all NHL players are of German heritage. Marcel Goc, Marco Sturm, and Dennis Seidenberg are among the notable DEL graduates.
National League A (NLA)
The National League A is Switzerland’s highest ice hockey league. It was established in 1937 and now has 14 teams.
National League A is largely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest hockey leagues, and it has produced numerous NHL players, including Mark Streit and Roman Josi. Each club plays 52 games throughout the season, with the top eight teams progressing to the playoffs. The playoffs are a single-elimination event, with the winner declared Swiss champions.
Slovak Extraliga (Tipsport Extraliga)
The Slovak Extraliga, also known as the Tipsport Extraliga, is the highest level of professional ice hockey in Slovakia. Founded in 1993, the league currently comprises 12 teams, each playing 54 games during the regular season. The top six teams then qualify for the playoffs, with the eventual winner crowned Slovakian champion.
The Tipsport Extraliga has produced some of Slovakia’s most successful hockey players, including Marion Gaborik, Pavol Demitra, and Zdeno Chara. In recent years, the league has also been increasingly competitive internationally, with Slovakian teams frequently qualifying for European competitions such as the Champions Hockey League and Continental Cup. With its skilled players and exciting games, the Tipsport Extraliga is one of Europe’s premier ice hockey leagues.
If you’re a hockey lover, you can get more action by following international leagues. The North American ones bring plenty of engaging drama throughout the season, but there’s no reason we can’t cheer up players from other countries.