Difference Between NHL and AHL

Difference Between NHL and AHL

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league that is North American based. It consists of 32 teams (24 in the Eastern Conference and 6 in the Western Conference). The NHL is one of the best hockey leagues in the world. The American Hockey League (AHL) is an organization that oversees most of the minor-league hockey teams that are North America based.

The AHL is a development organization that develops young players into professional hockey players. To make an NHL team, one of the original 32 teams must lose their entire or part of their roster for another team outside North America to pick up the players and have them on their roster at the start of the season.

There are currently 32 NHL teams and another 8 in-between with protected picks for each draft. The AHL has 31 teams that receive protected picks at the same time. They have enough talent to put in their upcoming seasons and have some players develop into NHL prospects. It makes them more appealing to other franchisees looking for a quick-fix on young ice hockey stars that can be developed within a year or two.


The NHL is the most prestigious hockey league in the world. The AHL is the top professional development league for those who wish to become professional hockey players.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the top professional ice hockey league in North America. At the same time, the American Hockey League (AHL) is the second-tier professional ice hockey league below it. Founded in 1926, NHL plays out its regular season between October and April. 32 teams play a total of 1,230 games each season. Both the leagues have similar rules, rosters, and histories. However, NHL is better than AHL by a considerable margin.

The significant difference is how the AHL chose its players and sent them after being drafted. The NHL gives all first-round draft picks (except those given to expansion teams such as Nashville, Atlanta, Carolina) to one of its 31 teams so that other franchises can use their top prospects for training camps or assign them down-low.

What is NHL?

The NHL consists of 32 teams, and each team plays 74 games during the regular season. From there, the top six teams in the regular season make the playoffs, with two rounds of best-of-seven series followed by a championship game. The key players in NHL are the goalkeepers because they have to be the last line of defense for their teams.

There are few defensive specialists in this league, and almost every team has a very small player who can hurt many forwards with their much more significant body. The NHL (National Hockey League) is similar to the American Hockey League. The players have to be chosen and sent by each team, no matter whether they play in North America, Europe, or Asia.

The NHL is better than the AHL since players are not sent to any cheap countries or even minor league teams in North Augusta, and they must play with superstars of their team. The game is played with 6 players on the field in the normal size of the World Hockey Association (WHA). There are two skaters and a goaltender per team. The end goal is to catch a plastic ball into the net, just like regular basketball but with a hockey stick at each side for defense.

What is AHL?

AHL is based in Canada and the United States, consisting of 31 teams. The league was founded in 1947 as the minor pro-International Hockey League and known by that name since 1972. It is considered one of the three major professional leagues, which are North American based, along with the National Hockey League (NHL) and Canada’s National Hockey League (NHL).

AHL has 220 million annual subscribers, making it the second-largest professional ice hockey league in the world behind the National Hockey League (NHL). In the United States, it develops young hockey players aged between 18 and 21 before going to professional teams in their respective countries. It has been stated that more NHL (National Hockey League) rookies are picked from AHL than by any other league in North America.

There are two Canadian teams, the Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils, who play in the American Hockey League and 29 other U.S.-based clubs around Canada and America. Including hockey cities where no NHL team is based, such as Worcester Phoenix (Hershey – Hershey Bears in the AHL), Elmira Jackals (Rochester – Rochester Americans), and Scranton Penguins.

Difference between NHL and AHL

  • NHL is a professional league while AHL is a developmental league.
  • NHL players typically receive more paid minutes and more significant playing time than AHL players.
  • NHL franchises are mainly North America-based, while AHL teams are spread throughout Canada and the United States.
  • NHL players predominantly come from elite junior leagues, while most AHL players have played in lower levels of junior hockey.
  • NHL teams are generally much better funded than AHL teams and have more resources to provide coaching and players development.
  • NHL players are expected to develop quickly and move on to the NHL as soon as possible. At the same time, AHL players may spend longer in the league before being called up to the NHL.


The AHL is unique and has a strong history of development, pointing to its “developmental” status. Most international-based hockey leagues unmatched the level competition for spots on the NHL roster. This means it is primarily an American League-style league with many U.S.-born players from the dominant ice hockey markets found there compared with other major overseas leagues. That tends not to be as prevalent either within or outside North America (including Canada) when compared to countries in Europe, Russia, and Asia.