So a new NHL season is underway, you want to spread your wings and follow some other leagues or your team’s top prospects, but you find it really hard to keep track of the sport’s sprawling domestic and international junior, college, and professional levels.

Well, don’t worry, because chances are you ask yourself the same questions as a lot of other people: Which players should I be watching? Which teams should I be watching? Where can I watch? What do I even start?

To answer those questions, I’ve put together this viewing guide for the 2021-22 season, covering every major league and country in the world. They are:

  • AHL and ECHL
  • CHL (OHL, QMJHL, WHL)
  • USHL and NTDP
  • Tier II junior (BCHL, AJHL, OJHL, etc.)
  • NCAA
  • High school hockey (Canada and U.S.)
  • Russian hockey (KHL, VHL, MHL)
  • Swedish hockey (SHL, HockeyAllsvenskan, HockeyEttan, J20)
  • Finnish hockey (Liiga, Mestis, U20)
  • Czech hockey (Tipsport Extraliga, U20)
  • Slovak hockey (Tipos Extraliga, U20)
  • German hockey (DEL, DEL2, U20)
  • Swiss hockey (National League, Swiss League, U20)

Here’s where you start.

AHL and ECHL

How to watch: AHLTV and FloHockey

Teams to watch:

I’m not going to make as many recommendations on who to watch for these two as I will for the rest of the leagues here because chances are if you’re subscribed to The Athletic that your focus will be on the affiliate clubs of your favourite NHL team.

But if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck in the AHL (I’m not talking about the best AHL teams necessarily, but rather the ones with the most kids worth watching), I’d steer you towards the Ontario Reign and the Iowa Wild as the league’s two must-watch teams. I’m also intrigued by the young group the Stockton Heat have this year.

Of note, there are also some new kids on the block. The Seattle Kraken are sharing the Charlotte Checkers with the Florida Panthers until their yet-to-be-named affiliate is ready to play in Palm Springs in 2022-2023, and the Abbotsford Canucks have rejoined the AHL (the Abbotsford Heat were previously an AHL affiliate of the Flames from 2009-2014) to take over Vancouver’s affiliation from the Utica Comets (who are now affiliated with the Devils).

In the ECHL, the Worcester Railers, Newfoundland Growlers, and Trois-Rivieres Lions are the teams with the most by way of semi-interesting young players. I’m looking forward to tracking the expansion Lions in the coming years, in particular, because I suspect they’ll become a landing spot for top unsigned QMJHL free agents.

AHL players to watch:

  • Peyton Krebs (Henderson Silver Knights)
  • Jonatan Berggren (Grand Rapids Griffins)
  • Alex Newhook (Colorado Eagles)
  • Ryan Suzuki, Jack Drury, Dominik Bokk (Chicago Wolves)
  • Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiem, Serron Noel (Charlotte Checkers)
  • Robin Salo (Bridgeport Islanders)
  • Egor Sokolov, Roby Jarventie, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson (Belleville Senators)
  • Raphael Lavoie, Philip Broberg and eventually Dylan Holloway (Bakersfield Condors)
  • Danila Klimovich, Jett Woo (Abbotsford Canucks)
  • Adam Beckman, Marco Rossi, Alexander Khovanov, Calen Addison, as well as potentially Matt Boldy (Iowa Wild)
  • Tyson Foerster, Cam York and Morgan Frost (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)
  • Ville Heinola and maybe Cole Perfetti (Manitoba Moose)
  • Egor Afanasyev (Milwaukee Admirals)
  • Samuel Fagemo, Tyler Madden, Alex Turcotte, Akil Thomas, Helge Grans, Jordan Spence and co. plus maybe Quinton Byfield (Ontario Reign)
  • Lukas Reichel (Rockford IceHogs)
  • JJ Peterka, Jack Quinn (Rochester Americans)
  • Jacob Perreault, Lukas Dostal (San Diego Gulls)
  • Ryan Merkley (San Jose Barracuda)
  • Scott Perunovich (Springfield Thunderbirds)
  • Dmitry Zavgorodny, Matthew Phillips, Ryan Francis, Emilio Pettersen, Jakob Pelletier, Dustin Wolf (Stockton Heat)
  • Thomas Harley, Riley Damiani, Ty Dellandrea, Jake Oettinger (Texas Stars)
  • Nick Robertson, Mikhail Abramov, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (Toronto Marlies)
  • Jan Jenik, Barrett Hayton, Matias Maccelli and, out of fascination, Janis Moser and Liam Kirk (Tucson Roadrunners)
  • Alexander Holtz, Nolan Foote, Tyce Thompson (Utica Comets)
  • Samuel Poulin (Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins)