I analyzed the data of the 2019-2020 Division 1 Freshmen Class as it pertains to European players who joined the NCAA D1 this season to gain a better understanding of the track Europeans choose to achieve their goal of playing College Hockey. The findings are based on the compilation of the previous league affiliations of the 478 Freshmen who played D1 in 2019-2020.
Let’s first look in which leagues this season’s Freshmen class played before joining their College teams:
The majority of the players played in the US Leagues (61.3%) followed by the Canadian Leagues (36.6%) and the European Leagues with 2.1%. The three major leagues with players moving on to D 1 are the USHL (36.8%), the BCHL (20.1%) and the NAHL (19.2%) – [USHL & NAHL US based, BCHL Canada].
The above mentioned figures are no surprise. What intrigued me was how Europeans arrive in the NCAA. Last season 38 European Freshmen were on the rosters. Here they are by Nationality:
Next, what are the League affiliations of the Europeans?
Here we notice a difference between the North American and European players. The North Americans play their last Junior season in the three major NA Junior League (USHL, NAHL, BCHL) as per the first graph with the USHL leading the pack with a wide margin.
The Europeans League affiliation is slightly different with 37% USHL, 32% NAHL and 26% European Jr Leagues.
What is the conclusion? It shows that Europeans don’t necessarily have to play in the USHL which is the highest level Junior league in the US [which is often assumed by Europeans]. In the NAHL they get a fair opportunity for the door to the NCAA to open as documented by this year’s Freshmen class (14 Europeans from the USHL, 12 from the NAHL and 10 from European Leagues). It proofs the old saying, if you’re good they find you and the NCAA D1 teams certainly also scout the NAHL!