Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries: Ranked (2022 Update)


When you think about the top Ice Hockey countries, there are a few big players that come to mind:

Canada… USA… Russia…

These three countries have dominated the international hockey scene for decades.

And, while these three are still dominant today, there are certain countries that have emerged as some of the top countries, even overtaking some of these countries. Plus, some unknown countries have become fringe contenders in recent years.

So, what are the top 10 ice hockey countries?

In this article, we’ll break down our list of the top 10 ice hockey countries in order. We ranked the top 10 based on a few factors including the number of recent medals from various international tournaments, how many players are active in the NHL, and more.

Keep reading to see who the top ice hockey countries are!

And, if you want to know who the best ice hockey players in the world are in 2022, check out this article.

1. Canada

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (11 Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
3 Gold, Silver, Bronze
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
1 Gold, 2 Silver
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
2 Gold, 1 Silver
# of Active NHL Players484 Players (1st)

I don’t think anyone should be surprised at who took the #1 spot.

Ever since ice hockey was invented in Canada, the Great White North has driven the expansion of the sport worldwide.

With 11 medals, Canada comes out atop the three recent major international tournaments. They’ve also secured at least one gold medal from World Juniors, World Championships, and the Olympics, giving them the most tournament wins overall.

They also continue to lead the NHL with most players from Canada (484 players). However, the percentage of Canadian NHL players is shrinking over the years as the sport continues to grow in the US and Europe.

While Canada has remained atop of the major hockey countries, they aren’t the same “guaranteed champs” they once were. While Canadians still expect them to win every tournament, the reality is that they don’t—and they don’t always reach the podium anymore which is mostly a testament to the advancements from other countries including the next rising star…

Some of the most notable Canadian NHL players include: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Cale Makar.

2. Finland

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (9 Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Gold, 3 Bronze
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
2 Gold, Silver
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
Silver, Bronze
# of Active NHL Players61 Players (4th)

Finland? Really?

Yep.

You’re probably wondering where Russia and USA are. Well, they would be here except this Nordic country has risen to dominance on the international scene over the past 10 years.

They’ve surpassed Sweden, USA, and Russia to become the team to beat with a total of 9 medals in recent years (including 3 gold).

Some notable Finnish NHL players include: Aleksander Barkov, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Juuse Saros. 

3. USA

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (5 Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Gold, 2 Silver
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
Bronze
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
Gold
# of Active NHL Players318 Players (2nd)

The land of the… three? 

That’s right. While the USA doesn’t quite reach the top two for ice hockey countries… they still secured spot number three, right behind Finland.

The reality is that they haven’t performed as well as they should internationally. On paper, the United States should be a top 2 team, right up there with Canada. But the results of recent competitions are ultimately what placed them at third overall.

The main reason they’ve held a top 3 spot is that Team USA’s women’s team has medaled at almost every recent tournament in the top 2. They’ve secured two silvers and a gold medal at the past 3 Olympics. With 5 total medals, they’re still dominant and could quickly bounce back to the top of this list (or at least take Finland’s spot).

Some notable American NHL players include: Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, and Johnny Gaudreau.

4. Russia

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (4 Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Gold, Silver
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
Bronze
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
Silver
# of Active NHL Players57 Players (5th)

Russia used to be the top ice hockey country in the world.

And, while they’re among the top, they’re not the same country they used to be. To be fair, they have missed some tournament time through disqualifications due to recent international issues. However, they only managed to secure a single gold medal from the 9 tournaments listed above.

Where Russia has excelled the most internationally has been at the Olympics, where they’ve secured a gold and silver medal in recent years. However, their international play could use some work if they want to climb back up to the top 3.

Some notable Russian NHL players include: Alexander Ovechkin, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Artemi Panarin.

5. Sweden

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (3 Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Silver
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
No Medals
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
2 Bronze
# of Active NHL Players106 Players (3rd)

Sweden is another team that was for a long period of time, a top 3 contender.

However, they’ve slipped in recent years. Arguably their most successful tournament in recent years was the 2014 Sochi Olympics where they received silver. There wasn’t much they could do against Canada that year though, as they arguably had the best Canadian Olympic team of all time in 2014.

Sweden has been quite consistent at the World Juniors, and the number of current Swedish NHL stars prove that they’re still one of the best ice hockey countries in the world.

Had the Swedes won against Canada in 2014, they would have certainly taken Russia’s spot at #4. Sweden could likely still take a top three spot within a year if they can secure two or more medals.

Some notable Swedish NHL players include: Victor Hedman, Jacob Markstrom, and Nicklas Backstrom.

6. Czechia (Czech Republic)

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (1 Medal)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
No Medals
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
Bronze
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
No Medals
# of Active NHL Players39 Players (6th)

Czechia–formerly known as The Czech Republic–has remained a competitive ice hockey country for years.

At #6, they have maintained their position and haven’t strayed up or down much. Unfortunately, it’s been tough for Czechia to claim a spot at the international podium, despite still giving teams like Canada, Finland, and the States a run for their money.

Czechia is going to have a tough time maintaining its position, as fringe countries at the lower end of our top 10 rankings are continuously becoming more competitive over time. 

Some notable Czech NHL players include: David Pastrnak, Jacob Voracek, and Pavel Francouz.

7. Slovakia

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (1 Medal)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Bronze
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
No Medals
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
No Medals
# of Active NHL Players11 Players (8th)

Slovakia. The other half of former Czechoslovakia.

This is a country that has fought its way as a competitive country. 

It used to be that the top teams would push Slovakia around, but those days are gone. They’ve become a powerhouse contender in recent years and they even secured their first-ever Olympic medal in 2022 to defeat team Sweden for the bronze medal.

Some notable Slovakian NHL players include: Zdeno Chara, Tomas Tatar, and Jaroslav Halak.

8. Switzerland

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (1 Medal)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
Bronze
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
No Medals
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
No Medals
# of Active NHL Players13 Players (7th)

Another up and coming international ice hockey country is Switzerland.

Led by the likes of Roman Josi, this country has become a contender in recent years. While they’re nowhere near the likes of the USA, Canada, or Finland, they’ve been maturing in their overall ability to keep up with the bigger countries.

Some notable Swiss NHL players include: Roman Josi, Nico Hischier, and Kevin Fiala.

9. Germany

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (1 Medal)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
1 Silver
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
No Medals
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
No Medals
# of Active NHL Players8 Players (9th)

Over the past decade, Germany has truly begun making a name for themselves on the world stage of hockey. Of the past 9 major international tournaments, they’ve shown up to all but 1 (they weren’t at the 2014 Sochi Olympics).

In 2022, Germany managed to pick up its first-ever silver medal at the Olympics for men’s ice hockey. This was its second-ever Olympic medal for ice hockey—a whopping 90 years after it scored bronze for ice hockey at the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Some notable German NHL players include: Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutzle, and Moritz Seider.

10. Latvia

Most Recent International Tournament Rankings (No Medals)

TournamentMedals
Olympics
(2022-2018-2014)
No Medals
IIHF World Championships
(2022-2021-2019)
No Medals
IIHF World Junior Championships
(2022-2021-2020)
No Medals
# of Active NHL Players5 Players (11th)

When you think about the top ice hockey countries, Latvia certainly isn’t a country that comes up first… if at all. But, the country is certainly making ground internationally.

While Latvia hasn’t scored any medals on the international stage, they’re certainly growing internationally. Of the past 9 major international hockey tournaments, Latvia has made an appearance in 6 of them (all but 1 Olympics and 2 World Junior Championships).

Some notable Latvian NHL players include: Elvis Merzlikins, Zemgus Girgensons, and Teodors Blueger.

Top Ice Hockey Country Honorable Mentions

11. Denmark 

12. Austria 

13. Belarus

14. Kazakhstan 

Our Points Ranking System for Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries

CountryRankPlacement in The Olympics (Men & Women’s Teams)
(Top 3)
Placement in World Championships
(Top 3)
Placement in World Juniors (Top 3)# Of NHL Players
Canada#1 (44 points)2022: M: N/A, F: #1
2018: M: #3, F: #2
2014: M: #1, F: #1
2022: #2
2021: #1
2019: #2
2022: #1
2021: #2
2020: #1
1st (484)
Finland#2 (36 points)2022: M: #1, F: #3
2018: M: N/A, F: #3
2014: M: #3, F: N/A
2022: #1
2021: #2
2019: #1
2022: #2
2021: #3
2020: N/A
4th (61)
USA#3 (24 points)2022: M: N/A, F: #2
2018: M: N/A, F: #1
2014: M: N/A, F: #2
2022: N/A
2021: #3
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: #1
2020: N/A
2nd (318)
Russia#4 (19 points)2022: M: #2, F: N/A
2018: M: #1, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: #3
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: #2
5th (57)
Sweden#5 (17 points)2022: M: N/A, F: N/A
2018: M: N/A, F: N/A
2014: M: #2, F: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: #3
2021: N/A
2020: #3
3rd (106)
Czechia#6 (11 points)2022: M: N/A, F: N/A
2018: M: N/A, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: N/A
2022: #3
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: N/A
6th (39)
Slovakia#7 (8 points)2022: M: #3, F: N/A
2018: M: N/A, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: N/A
8th (11)
Switzerland#8 (6 points)2022: M: N/A, F: N/A
2018: M: N/A, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: #3
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: N/A
7th (13)
Germany#9
(5 points)
2022: M: N/A, F: N/A
2018: M: #2, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: N/A
9th (8)
Latvia#10 (1 point)2022: M: N/A, F: N/A
2018: M: N/A, F: N/A
2014: M: N/A, F: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2019: N/A
2022: N/A
2021: N/A
2020: N/A
11th* (5)


Point System Explained: Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries

After looking at the chart above, you may be wondering how exactly the point system works. For more in-depth details on how I ranked the countries, keep reading!

Points for Olympic Rankings

Placement in tournaments is given a 5x weight for most recent, 3x weight for 2nd most recent, 2x weight for 3rd most recent.

For instance, here are Canada’s Olympic points for their past 3 Olympic rankings. (By the way M stands for Male, F stands for Female):

2022: M: N/A, F: #1
1 x 5 = 5 points
2018: M: #3, F: #2
2 x 3 = 6 points
2014: M: #1, F: #1
2 x 2 = 4 points
=15 points

2022:
Since only the Women’s team ranked top 3 in 2022, they get 1 point x 5 for 5 points.

2018:
Since both Men’s and Women’s teams ranked top 3 in 2018, they get 2 points x 3 for a total of 6 points.

2014:
Since both men’s and Women’s teams ranked top 3 in 2014, they get 2 points x 2 for a total of 4 points.

Canada’s total Olympic Points come to 15 points.

Points for IIHF World Championships Rankings

The IIHF World Championship Points have the same point-tallying system as the Olympics apart from one factor: instead of counting both men and women’s teams from the Olympics, we simply counted the men’s team for simplicity.

Points for IIHF World Junior Championships Rankings

World Junior Championships ranking is the same as the World Championships except for one point: we gave them a lower ranking since the World Juniors doesn’t paint the full picture of a country’s overall world ranking.

World Juniors is more of a “what’s-to-come” in terms of world talent. Professional hockey players don’t typically peak until their mid-20’s while the World Juniors showcases the top Under-20 hockey players in the world.

For point totals, we made them 50% lower compared to the Olympics and World Championships.

For instance, the USA has a top 3 ranking in 2021 world juniors (1 x 3 = 3 points). After reducing it by 50%, we get 1.5. However, we’ll round up to make things easier. So they get 2 points for the World Junior Championships.

Points for a Country’s Total Number of NHL Players:

For the number of players in the NHL, we ranked them as who has the most to least (from 1-11), and inverted their rating. So, because the US has the 2nd most NHL players (2 out of 10), they get 9 points. Canada gets 10 points since they have the most NHL players.

On the other hand, Slovakia is 8th out of 10, so they get 3 points. The reason it’s 1-11 is because Latvia has the 11th most players in the NHL of any country (just behind Denmark).

Latvia (10th Overall) vs. Denmark (11th Overall)

You’ll notice that overall, Latvia is ranked #10 on our list. However, in the number of NHL players category, Latvia is ranked #11. This is because Denmark actually has more NHL players than Latvia. I still gave Latvia 1 point for this category.

Latvia is ranked ahead of Denmark overall at #10 in the world on our list for reasons not shown in our chart. The main reason is because Latvia has consistently ranked higher in world tournaments than Denmark (despite neither team ever cracking the top 3).

For instance, Latvia ranked ahead of Denmark two out of the past three World Championships. Also, Denmark hasn’t attended the past 3 World Junior Championships while Latvia has attended once.

This is mainly due to preliminary world rankings. The top 8 countries will typically join the host and three qualifiers. Since Denmark didn’t qualify for the 2022 Olympics, they couldn’t attend the tournament.

This is mainly due to preliminary world rankings. The top 8 countries will typically join the hose and three qualifiers. For instance, because Denmark didn’t qualify leading up to the 2022 Olympics, they didn’t make the cut.

It’s important to note that Denmark is still a great hockey country and it’s exciting to see the game continue to grow in the county! IIHF actually ranks them at #10 for men’s hockey on their own list (shown below). Sorry IIHF, but I think my ranking system is better. 🙂

IIHF’s List of Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries (2022)

The IIHF—or International Ice Hockey Federation—is the leading organization for international ice hockey in the world.

You’ll notice that their rankings are slightly different from mine. Something they don’t take into account (that mine does) is Olympic hockey as well as total representation from each country in the NHL.

That’s why Finland is ranked #1 for Men and #3 for Women. Overall, their rankings are quite similar though. 

IIHF’s Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries World Ranking (Men) 2022:

1. Finland

2. Canada

3. Russia

4. United States

5. Sweden

6. Czechia

7. Switzerland

8. Slovakia

9. Germany

10. Denmark

IIHF’s Top 10 Ice Hockey Countries World Ranking (Women) 2022:

1. Canada

2. United States

3. Finland

4. Switzerland

5. Russia

6. Czechia

7. Japan

8. Sweden

9. Hungary

10. Germany

Want more answers to the most common hockey questions? Be sure to check out our other popular articles: Top 10 Best Ice Hockey Players 2022, When Are Hockey Tickets Cheapest, and Why Does Ice Hockey Have 3 Periods?

Sources

https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/nationality-totals/active-nhl-players-career-stats.html

https://www.iihf.com/

https://olympics.com/en/

Recent Posts