The Progress of Elite Ice Hockey Beyond the NHL

Lindsay Hofford

December 8, 2022

Elite Ice Hockey

Those interested in the progress of elite ice hockey beyond the NHL should take note of some of the leagues based in Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia. These leagues are starting to establish themselves as major players in ice hockey. Some of the leagues are also competing in the World Championships. Those interested in watching the competition can do so through online streaming services or live events.

Leagues in Sweden and Finland

SM-liiga is one of the top leagues in Sweden and Finland for elite ice hockey beyond the NHL. The league was created in 1975 to replace the amateur competition SM-area. The new league intended to concentrate on developing top-level Finnish ice hockey. It was also intended to pave the way for full professionalism in the industry.

The Liiga is one of the top leagues in Finland and contributes a great deal of talent to the NHL. In the past 35 years, the league has become more popular in Finland and increased its popularity internationally. The league is comprised of 15 teams, and each team plays 60 regular season games.

The league also uses the same playoff format as the Czech Extraliga. Teams play each other twice, with the top team playing the bottom team. The top six teams automatically advance to the quarter-finals, and the final two teams are determined through a playoff.

Leagues in the Czech Republic

Currently, the Czech Extraliga is ranked as the third-strongest ice hockey league in Europe by the International Ice Hockey Federation. The league started in 1993 after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. A second league was formed in Slovakia. The name of the league changes frequently.

The league has fourteen teams based throughout the Czech Republic. Teams that finish in the top ten qualify for the playoffs. The playoff format is interesting. The top two teams play each other, while teams finishing in the seventh through tenth place compete against each other.

The league comprises factory-level teams, all coached by professional coaches. Most of the factory-level coaches are former hockey players.

The best 15-year-olds are invited to play for top clubs. The league also has a promotion and relegation system.

Leagues in Switzerland

Despite being a small country, Switzerland’s national leagues produce some of the world’s top ice hockey. Some of the country’s biggest cities, like Geneva, are also league members.

The Swiss National League (SNL) is the top men’s league in the country. It’s a 12-team league, with teams competing from across the country. The league has had the highest average attendance in Europe for the last five seasons.

The National League is one of two men’s leagues run by Swiss Ice Hockey. The league features two divisions based on quality. Teams placed eight to ten in the regular season play best of three, best of five, or best of seven series to determine the champion. The winner is promoted to the National League, while the losing team goes to the Consolation Bracket.

Leagues in Russia

During the lockout in the NHL during the 2012-13 season, some superstars were playing in the KHL. Many of these players are from Russia, although others are from countries outside the Russian Federation.

While the KHL is not as strong as the NHL, the league boasts some of the world’s best players. Some of these players come from countries that are less likely to be considered hockey hotbeds. They include Canada and Great Britain. Other countries that have teams include China and Finland.

The KHL features 23 teams. They include Kunlun from China and Jokerit from Helsinki. Each team must have five players on the roster from their country. They also have six franchises outside of Russia.

Leagues in Canada

Whether you are a Canadian or not, there are leagues in Canada for elite ice hockey beyond the NHL. These leagues develop talented players and offer a pathway to a professional hockey career.

The NHL is considered the best professional hockey league in the world. However, some leagues are better than others. For instance, the QMJHL is considered one of the most exciting hockey leagues in the United States. The league has won the Memorial Cup six times since 2000.

The Western Hockey League is another league that is considered to be one of the best hockey leagues in North America. There are 22 teams in the WHL. The league is known for its ability to develop young hockey players.