1. Where do the players come from?
The Western Hockey League’s (WHL) 22 Member Clubs are located throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S.. Players who reside in the Western Canadian provinces of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and the Western U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming are within the protected territory designated by the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) to the WHL. Players are eligible to be drafted or placed on the protected list of a WHL Member Club. Top level players develop in the system through the various leagues and in the year of their 16th birthday, become eligible to play in the WHL on a full time basis. Players can continue to play in the WHL until the year of their 20th birthday, after which their junior eligibility expires and they graduate from the Major Junior ranks.
2. How does a player become eligible to play in the Western Hockey League?
Each of the 22 member Clubs in the WHL has a 50 player protected list that includes current roster players as well as players projected to be on the team’s roster in the future. Once placed on the list of a member Club, a player must play with that WHL Club if he wishes to play at the Major Junior level. The first opportunity to list players is in the year of their 15th birthday. The WHL conducts the WHL Bantam Draft for players turning 15 in that calendar year which is the first date that a WHL Club can add a player to their protected list
s. Any players who are not listed at that time, can be added to a WHL Club’s protected list until the year of their 20th birthday. If the WHL Club’s list is filled with 50 players and they wish to add a player, they must first release a player from their protected list. Players released from a protected list are free to be added by any other WHL Club after a seven day waiting period. Players must appear on a team’s list in order to play a WHL regular season or playoff game.
3. Will a WHL Club contact the family when they make changes to their WHL Player Protected Lists?
Yes. If a player is added or removed from a WHL Player Protected List, the WHL Club is required to notify the family within 24 hours.
4. Can players that are not listed attend training camps?
Yes. WHL Club Training Camps are open to any player who receives an invitation unless the player is on another Club’s protected list. Should a non-listed player be invited to more than one Training Camp, the player may choose which Camp he prefers to attend.
5. How does a player get selected in the WHL Bantam Draft?
The WHL Bantam Draft, held in late April or early May of each year, mirrors the National Hockey League Draft in that all the teams select players in inverse order based on the previous WHL Regular Season standings. WHL Clubs have extensive scouting staffs that evaluate Bantam hockey players across Western Canada and the Western United States in advance of the WHL Bantam Draft. The WHL Clubs individually rank the players eligible for the Draft and then select the players that they believe will one day play for their club in the WHL.
6. What happens after a player gets selected in the WHL Bantam Draft?
After a player is chosen in the WHL Bantam Draft, the WHL Club will immediately contact the family. The player will then have the opportunity to attend the WHL Club’s Rookie or main Training Camp before returning to play Midget at home in the minor hockey system. The Camp experience provides an opportunity for the player and their family to experience the city and facilities of their WHL Club, as well as meet with teammates and members of the team staff. As well, it will provide the player an opportunity to evaluate the level of play in the WHL.
7. What happens if a player is not selected in the WHL Bantam Draft?
The evaluation of player talent is an ongoing process for every WHL Club. Regardless of whether a player is or is not selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, WHL Clubs continue to evaluate players and add them to their protected lists if they display potential to play in the WHL. Many prominent NHL players, such as Shea Weber, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan, were not selected in the WHL Bantam Draft. Over 20% of WHL current rosters are players who were not selected in the WHL Bantam Draft.
8. Where do the players live?
Players are billeted with families in the centers in which they play. The players tend to bond very quickly with the billets who make the transition from living away from home that much easier. In most cases players are billeted with fellow teammates.
9. Can players be traded?
Players can be traded within the WHL up until January 10th each season. All trades must be submitted and approved by the WHL Office.
10. Do WHL Clubs supply equipment for its players?
Yes. Every WHL player is supplied with the highest quality of skates, sticks, and protective equipment by CHL licensed suppliers.
11. How many Europeans can play in the WHL?
Each WHL Club is allowed a maximum of two non-North American import players. These import players must be drafted through the CHL Import Draft held annually in June or July.
12. How many 20 year olds (overage players) can a WHL Club have on their roster?
WHL Clubs are allowed a maximum of three 20 year old players on their roster. Clubs having more than three overage players to start the season may continue to rotate them in and out of the lineup until a date determined annually in mid-October at which time they must declare the three that will remain on their roster. Other 20-year-olds become free agents and are made available to other teams in the WHL. Following that date, WHL Clubs may add an overage player, but if they already have three on their roster, then they must release one. January 10 of each year is the roster deadline and all players who are with a WHL Club on that date are there for the balance of the season.
WHL Scholarship Program
1. How does a player earn a WHL Scholarship?
For each season played in the WHL, a player is guaranteed one year of scholarship funding to a post-secondary institution of his choice up to a maximum of five years. The scholarship benefits are fully guaranteed when a player signs a WHL Standard Player Agreement.
2. Can you play Canadian University Hockey after playing in the WHL?
Yes. Many former WHL players are currently playing large roles in U Sports Canadian university hockey programs. The majority of WHL graduates play in the Canada West University League, which includes the defending national champion University of Alberta Golden Bears. WHL graduate players also participate in Canadian college hockey leagues, such as the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
3. Is there any additional funding available over and above the WHL Scholarship should a WHL graduate choose to play for a U Sports or a Western Canada University hockey team?
Yes, most U Sports Canadian university hockey programs will provide additional funding over and above the WHL Scholarship. In the CWUAA, this added funding is called the Western Canada Premiere Scholarship. While the WHL Scholarship Program covers tuition and books, the University will provide additional funds to offset the WHL graduates other education costs while attending their institution. This additional financial support effectively provides the equivalent of a “full ride” to those WHL graduates playing Canadian University hockey
4. Do I have to play University hockey when using my WHL Scholarship?
No. Many WHL graduates currently attending schools all over North America, are focused solely on their studies and not playing University hockey. As well, because of the flexibility of the WHL Scholarship, many WHL graduates are attending institutions that do not have hockey programs. The WHL Scholarship is an academic scholarship and there is no requirement to play hockey. In fact, the WHL Scholarship is extremely flexible. The value of the scholarship can be applied to any career enhancing post-secondary program, including trade schools.
5. How do I access my WHL Scholarship?
Once a player graduates from the WHL he will receive a WHL Scholarship information package from the WHL Office. The WHL Scholarship package is also available on the WHL intranet system – The Dub Hub. This package will include a Scholarship Processing Form and a form to submit textbook receipts. Once the player fills out the Scholarship Processing Form and submits it to the WHL Office, the institution will then be informed of his scholarship status. The school will invoice the WHL Office directly, who will then inform the player’s former WHL Club that he has activated his WHL Scholarship.
6. How long do I have to access my WHL Scholarship?
You can wait one full academic year after the completion of your last season of junior eligibility to access your WHL Scholarship. For example, a 20 year old player who graduates from the WHL after the 2017-18 season has until September of 2019 (18 month period) to access his scholarship benefits. This provides the player with the option of playing in a WHL designated minor professional league (i.e., AHL, ECHL, etc.) for one (1) full season prior to determining whether he wishes to activate his WHL Scholarship.
1. Does playing in the WHL affect my eligibility to play hockey for a U.S. College?
Yes. If you play a regular season or exhibition game in the WHL, under NCAA rules, it will affect your hockey (NCAA) eligibility.
2. Am I able to attend a rookie camp or the main WHL Club Training Camp without compromising my NCAA eligibility?
Yes, you can attend and participate for a 48 hour period at the WHL Club’s expense. You can continue to attend following the 48 hour period and retain your NCAA eligibility provided you cover your own expenses, (meals, accommodation), etc.
3. What is the NCAA “48 Hour Rule”?
Players often have concerns about how long they can attend a WHL training camp without affecting their NCAA eligibility. While a player can attend a WHL Club Training Camp for as long as desired by the WHL Club, there are limits to expenses being paid for by the WHL Club. According to the NCAA Eligibility Center’s 2009-10 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, a player may receive actual and necessary expenses during a tryout for 48 hours, while self-financed tryouts may be for more than 48 hours.
4. Am I allowed to speak with WHL Club staff (General Managers, Scouts, etc.), or receive recruiting materials from the WHL or one of the teams without having it affect my NCAA eligibility?
Yes. A player’s NCAA eligibility will not be impacted by contact made with WHL Club personnel. This includes contact initiated by the player or by a WHL Club. As well, players and their families are free to accept recruiting materials distributed by the WHL or any of its member Clubs.