The Global Hockey League
Hockey On Stats

Nowadays we know the NHL has players of nearly every race and come from places all over the world. Was it always this way though? While predominantly Canadian and US players, what share of the talent that pours into the NHL is from outside? Are the predominant countries losing "market share"? These are the exact questions that made me investigate how the orgin of talent is arriving to the NHL. This is the globalization of the National Hockey League, 1976 to 2016

Global Expansion

Let's start out by seeing how we go to where we are now. The NHL wasn't always so global when it comes to talent scouting. Our journey starts in 1976 and ends today in 2016.


As you can see, the NHL landscape has changed drastically since 1976. In 1976 the entry draft was basically all US and Canadian born players. Now though, there are years where the US is virtually tied with Canada. Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech are commonplace in the draft.

The rise and fall

So while this map is fun/cool and lights up, it's hard to tell whether the US or Canada are actually losing ground. The below image shows a better representation of what has been going on for the past 40 years. The below graph shows the percentage of talent that was drafted from a given country. For example, if Canada is at 70% in 1980, then 70% of the players drafted in 1980 were Canadian.

Well well, Canada has indeed lost some ground to the rest of the world in terms of talent acquisition! However, it's not so much because the talent Canada produces is decreasing but rather that Canadian and American talent is now competing with talent from all over the world. Canadians need not to worry though, they're still in the lead for drafted talent.


We're very lucky to have a league that is full of cultural diversity, whether fans embrace it or not. I think we sometimes take for granted how lucky we are to have a global league. How lucky we are to attract some of, if not, the best talent around the world. It's truly an accomplishment we should relish and applaud the NHL on. I guess the real question going forward is, what's the next country we should color in?


Written by: @Daveedgamboa