Best Hockey Leagues Outside the US
Hockey is no longer solely a North American property. With the development of the sport, the interest started to develop all around the world. Today, there are many leagues, especially in Europe that can rival even the NHL in talent and viewership.
The National Hockey League for now still remains the most commercially profitable one and also the most popular in the world. But the popularity of other leagues has grown to such proportions that people are even waging on them, as you can see on fanduel sportbook.
But which are these leagues? Let’s count them out!
Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)
KHL is without a doubt the second strongest hockey league in the world. It evolved from the Russian Superleague in 2008 and now counts 27 teams in total. It mainly comprises teams from Russian and Europe but most recently China has been incorporated as well.
The league has a great talent poll and it consists not only from Russian players but athletes from various parts of Europe play there. You will notice that a lot of Canadian players have joined and there are even some coming from Great Britain.
The format of the KHL is very similar to the NHL one as eight teams from their winning conferences get to compete in the final stage for the Gagarin Cup.
Elisterien – Swedish Elite League (SEL)
Sweden is one of the greatest hockey powerhouses so it makes sense that they too have a good hockey league. SEL comprises of 14 teams that play a 52 game schedule each year. The top eight teams make it to the playoffs but the first leg of the playoffs differs as opposed to other sports. Actually, the three top-seeded teams get to pick their opponents out of the bottom seeded ones.
The Elisterien is also interesting as it also has a relegation part. Meaning that the lowest teams are going to be relegated to the HockeyAllsvenskan, or the second tier of Swedish hockey. The relegation series is called Kvalserien, which determines the teams that go up and the ones that go down.
The SM-liiga is the top tier of Finnish hockey and also widely regarded as the second-best league in Europe. Owing to its success, ever since it was established in 1975, the league greatly popularized hockey in Finland. As a consequence, the league has developed numerous future stars with many of them going overseas to play in the NHL. Furthermore, the Finnish national team has also been more than successful on the international stage.
The league consists of 14 teams that play 60 league games against each other. The top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs, with the top six automatically entering the quarter-finals stage. The teams situated from seventh to tenth place will need to play additionally against each other in order to qualify for the quarter-finals and a chance to play against one of the top six teams that have already qualified and a chance to win the title.