NHL Talent Pool Climbs

Occasionally I will get a comment about the NHL being too diluted. I dismiss these remarks rather quickly. I have looked at the data and tried to watch hockey from the 80s. Most people with deeper knowledge of the game know the talent has never been deeper. I’ve already shown how NHL league parity is extremely tight(Note: assist for league parity goes to the three point game aka the OTL)

From a future talent perspective, there continues to be an increase of people playing hockey. For Hockey weekend in America, I thought it might be a good time to show some data around participation around the country and around the world.


As the graph shows, USA Hockey Player membership is up 23% since 1998-99. Roughly speaking, USA born players account for about 20% of the NHL Player pool. Below is how some of the states have increased.

California’s pop in participation can attributed to the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks capturing mindshare and population growth (~14% since 1999). Similar to California, Tennessee has seen a large % spike in memberships due to the Predators coming to the state with a successful product on the ice. In Illinois case, you can probably chalk that up to a good run by the Blackhawks.

The growth in the US is great but if that is only 20% of the player population of the NHL, that can only go so far.

O Canada

Canadian born hockey players make up about 50% of the player pool in the NHL so as far as a pipeline feeder system the NHL, Canada is it. Below is the Hockey Canada player membership data that I was able to obtain from the IIHF (2007 – 2014)

It is clear the player pool is increasing and the thought of adding two new teams should have minimal impact to the overall quality of talent as the talent continues to grow. Whether it is Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston or Kansas City, it will grow the amount of people playing hockey. That will in time, develop more NHL Talent.

Bonus material

Since I had the data, here is the Birth Country of players in the NHL by year

John Barr
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