Best Ice Hockey Leagues (part 3)

5.) Czech Extraliga (Tipsport Extraliga)

The Czech Extraliga is one of the most fierceful professional ice hockey leagues in Europe and is currently rated by the IIHF as the third strongest and popular ice hockey league in Europe. The league was also established in 1993 and the Czech’s have a lot to offer for in terms of talent contributed to the NHL.

Players from the Czech Republic work their way to the NHL every year and many of those players have had opportunity at playing in the Czech Extraliga. There are currently 50-plus Czech players in the National Hockey League including Thomas Hertl, Vladimir Sobotka and Pavel Zacha playing for NHL rosters, it is obvious that the Czech Republic and the Czech Extraliga is home for nurturing talented all-around hockey players.

4.) SM-liiga

Finland’s top professional ice-hockey league is SM-liiga, and considered by the IIHF as the second popular league in Europe. Hockey’s popularity in Finland has rapidly growth at the international level with viewership, support, and the level of hockey play. In the 2014 Olympic games in Soichi, Russia, Finland won the bronze medal, defeated the US squad with the final result 5-0.

The SM-liiga has been growing since it took over hockey responsibilities in Finland from the SM-sarja in 1975 by churning out NHL-caliber talent. The Finnish league is consists of 14 teams that compete for one of ten playoff position in a span of 60 regular season games, with the best six teams entering the quarter-final stage. The Czech Extraliga and SM-liiga use the same format as the 7th-10th teams compete with each other for an opportunity to compete with one of the 6 quarter-final contestants.

The SM-liiga also contributes a considerable number of stars players to the NHL and some of Finland’s most highly talents such as Mikael Granlund and Teemu Pulkkinen. Talented NHLers such as Aleksander Barkov, Sami Vatanen and Rasmus Ristolainen are all nurtured by the SM-liiga and the future of the league is as bright as ever since it keeps nurturing such amazing stars.