Since the formation of the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1917, the United States has been a dominant force in the sport. The country has produced many Hall of Fame players and several Stanley Cup champions. Since the introduction of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 1976, the United States has continued to dominate the international scene, with many prominent names coming from the country’s most successful hockey states – including California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin – that developed a rich hockey tradition.
Since the start of the 2018-19 NHL season, we took a look at how many minor league and major league players were born in each U.S. state to see which ones could potentially become the next great American Hockey Player. We then compared these numbers to the number of Nhl players that were born in each state to determine the ratio of American Hockey Players (AHP) to Nhl players.
After the 2018-19 NHL season, we compiled a list of the top 30 American states for producing future NHL players. The results were surprising to say the least. Twelve of the top thirty states were located in the Midwest, with only two each in the northeast and southwest regions of the country. This paints a clear picture that the United States is indeed a country that breeds exceptional hockey players.
The top five states were as follows:
- Minnesota – 286 players (50.8%)
- Wisconsin – 255 players (43.9%)
- Illinois – 183 players (32.1%)
- Michigan – 171 players (30.1%)
- Colorado – 168 players (29.9%)
Interestingly, California, the most populous state in the country, did not make the top five. This may be due to the large number of professional hockey players currently in the league. Several prominent names – including Alex Ovechkin, Joe Thornton, and Drew Doughty – were born in the southern part of the state. Nevertheless, several youngsters from California have made an impact at the minor league level in recent years, which bodes well for the future of the sport in the Golden State.
NHL Invented By…
Perhaps the most popular question when it comes to the American Hockey League (AHL) is: Who invented the game of hockey? The quick answer is: The National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL was founded in 1917 and is the top-level professional men’s hockey league in the world. Several teams – including the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs – have served as the inspiration for many of today’s hockey players. It’s no wonder that several American states are prominent within the NHL community. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door of the NHL, you need only to look at the top five states in terms of production.
A Major League Influencer
Another interesting tidbit about the states that produced the most NHL players is the fact that several were prominent in the world of major league sports and television. Many of the league’s most well-known players hail from Minnesota and Wisconsin, known for their cold winters and abundance of hockey talent. Several also called the states home, including Herb Gardiner, who played in the NHL from 1929 to 1935, and Ted Lindsay, who played from 1942 to 1953.
It’s no surprise that the NHL regularly sends its players to the minor league level, where they can continue their development while also gaining experience. In fact, many prominent NHL players got their start at the minor league level. Several even went on to become minor league all-stars and led their teams to championships. Some notable examples include Charlie Hargrove, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 1930, and Harry Howell, who won five straight professional hockey titles with the Buffalo Sabres from 1955 to 1959.
Future Hall Of Fame Inductees
Based on the most recent list of the 100 top-scoring leaders in the league, compiled by the NHL, the following states have the most future Hall of Fame players:
- Minnesota – 26 players (26%)
- Michigan – 21 players (21%)
- Wisconsin – 20 players (20%)
- Illinois – 16 players (16%)
- Colorado – 13 players (13%)
In addition to these top-level American states, several others have produced several prominent NHL players, including Colorado’s star goalie, Patrick Roy, and the New York Islanders’ entire roster. Another bright spot is the state of Pennsylvania, which has produced 21 NHL players, including stars such as Mike Richards and Claude Lemieux.
Future NHL Players From The Past
The 2018-19 NHL season was the 100th anniversary of the NHL. To celebrate this milestone, we took a look at which states have produced the most NHL players in the past. Based on our analysis of past NHL performers, several prominent states – including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois – stand out.
Looking back at the season’s first five months, we determined that the following states – in addition to the ones already mentioned – have produced the most NHL players so far:
- Minnesota – 31 players (31%)
- Wisconsin – 29 players (29%)
- Illinois – 17 players (17%)
- Colorado – 12 players (12%)
- New York – 10 players (10%)
Like with the future Hall of Fame, several of yesterday’s NHL stars come from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Many prominent players, including Frank Mahovlich, who scored the first goal in the NHL’s inaugural season, have hailed from the area. Many other past stars were also born in the neighboring state of Illinois, including Hall of Famers Sid Abel and Bill Tiley.
The 2019 NHL season is now underway, and we’ll continue to monitor which states produce the most prominent hockey players moving forward. Stay tuned for more!