For all the progress that has been made in the United States and for all the great players who have come to the NHL from Russia, Sweden, Finland and other European countries, there is no doubt that the majority of the best hockey players in the world are Canadian-born.
Great players come from provinces like Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. However, there is also little doubt that the best players in the game are from Ontario.
The biggest reason is the numbers game. Ontario is the most populous of the Canadian provinces and it also has a slew of great junior programs that allow the best hockey players to develop their talent.
Some of the best junior programs in Ontario include the Toronto Marlboros, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, Toronto Young Nats, Ottawa Valley Titans, London Jr. Knights and the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs.
QuantHockey.com keeps track of the origins of all NHL players and it breaks down which provinces produce the most players. For the last 60 years, Ontario has steadily produced 40 percent of the Canadian players in the NHL. Prior to the 1959-60 season, Ontario produced an even greater percentage of Canadian-born players.
In the 2011-12 season, 40.8 percent of the Canadian-born players in the league were from Ontario. Another 15.2 percent were from Alberta, 12.1 percent were from Quebec, 9.1 percent were from Saskatchewan, 10.8 percent from British Columbia, 7.3 percent from Manitoba and 1.7 percent from Nova Scotia.
In addition to having the edge in quantity, there seems to be a dominant number of quality players. Some of the best current players in the league from Ontario include Joe Thornton, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jason Spezza, Jeff Skinner, Tyler Seguin, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, Dan Girardi and Jeff Carter.
Some of the top players born in Quebec include Martin St. Louis, Roberto Luongo, Kris Letang, Vinny Lecavlier, Martin Brodeur, Danny Briere and Patrice Bergeron.
Some of the better current players from Alberta include Ray Whitney, Ryan Smyth, Jarome Iginla, Taylor Hall, Mike Green and Shane Doan.
The top players from Saskatchewan include Cam Ward, Patrick Marleau, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Getzlaf and Jordan Eberle.
The best players from British Columbia include Shea Weber, Carey Price, Milan Lucic and Evander Kane.
The best from Manitoba include Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Dustin Penner and Duncan Keith.
While Nova Scotia produces the smallest measurable percentage of NHL players, they include Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand.
(All player origin information from Hockey-Reference.com)