Comparing NCAA Hockey and CHL

February 07, 2019

by Dan Milstein



  • Academic scholarship that does not expire (regardless of professional contract)
  • Traditional college campus atmosphere with focus on maintaining GPA in order to remain eligible
  • Practice/training focus due to game schedule
  • Any travel over 8 hours requires flight (occasionally private charter)
  • Able to enroll at age 19 or 20 and develop both in USHL and throughout NCAA career, increasing prospect (if drafted) or free agent (if undrafted) value
  • Skill parity (due to older competitors)
  • Bargaining power (ability to become free agent August 15 following senior year if still unsigned by NHL club)


  • Lighter game schedule (approx. 35 games per year)
  • Enrollment may be pushed back to 19 at team's request
  • Unable to sign entry-level contract and collect signing bonus until you turn pro
  • Unable to attend NHL training camp
  • Required to pay your own way to NHL development camp



  • One year of academic scholarship at any state-funded university for each year played in CHL
  • Elite talent pool with many NHL-drafted players
  • Game schedule and playoff format mirrors NHL
  • Able to attend NHL development camp
  • Able to attend NHL training camp and have chance to make the NHL as an 18 year old
  • Opportunity to learn in pro-style coaching systems
  • Able to sign entry-level contract and collect signing bonus
  • Able to play as 16 or 17 year old and get regular exposure to NHL scouts who can witness your progress
  • Weekly pay, ability to request trades, billet family (home-cooked meals)
  • Able to play for any team in CHL as a 20 year old


  • Lose NCAA eligibility, academics a secondary priority
  • Lose academic scholarship as a result of signing any pro contract
  • Short window for undrafted players to showcase talent to NHL
  • Strict bus-only transportation, including game-day travel