PRINCETON, N.J. – The East Coast Hockey League had 50 former players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, surpassing the record of 45 players set last season. There are former ECHL players on 27 of the 30 NHL team rosters.
There have been 192 former ECHL players that have advanced to the NHL, including 85 in 2001-02. Eighteen former ECHL players made their NHL debut last season including Alex Auld, Ryan Flinn, Simon Lajeunesse, Gaeten Royer and Luke Sellars, who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2001-02.
Among the former ECHL players currently on NHL rosters are Ryan Kraft with San Jose and Fedor Fedorov with Vancouver. Kraft and Fedorov will be looking to make their first appearance in the NHL on Thursday when the Sharks host Detroit and the Canucks visit Calgary. Kraft played two seasons with the Richmond Renegades scoring 64 points (28g-36a) in 63 games in 1998-99 and 67 points (32g-35a) in 44 games in 1999-2000. The younger brother of the Detroit Red Wings’ Sergei Fedorov, Fedor Fedorov opened the 2001-02 season with Manitoba in the American Hockey League scoring three points (2g-1a) in eight games. He was assigned to Columbia where he played two games, recording a pair of assists, before an injury ended his season.
There are six former East Coast Hockey League coaches behind the bench for NHL teams. Peter Laviolette and Bruce Cassidy are the second and third East Coast Hockey League coaches that have become head coaches in the NHL. Laviolette, who is in his second season behind the bench with the New York Islanders, coached Wheeling in 1997-98. Cassidy, who is in his first season as head coach of the Washington Capitals, coached Jacksonville from 1996-98 and Trenton in 1999-2000.
Brian McCutcheon, who was named ECHL Coach of the Year with Columbus (Ohio) in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Buffalo while Wayne Cashman, who coached Pensacola in 1999-2000, is an assistant coach with Boston and Charlie Huddy, who coached Huntington in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Edmonton. Barry Smith, who coached Erie in 1995-96, is an assistant coach with Vancouver.
Former East Coast Hockey League Coaches, Players In NHL On Opening Day:
Anaheim – Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 92-94)
Atlanta – Jeff Cowan (Roanoke, 96-97); Milan Hnilicka (Richmond, 93-94)
Boston – Assistant Coach Wayne Cashman (Pensacola, 99-00); Steve Shields (S Carolina, 94-95)
Buffalo – Assistant Coach Brian McCutcheon (Columbus, Ohio, 96-97); Martin Biron (S Carolina, 97-98); Eric Boulton (Charlotte, 96-98/Florida, 98-99)
Calgary – Bob Boughner (Toledo, 91-92); Jamie McLennan (Richmond, 91-92)
Carolina – Jesse Boulerice (New Orleans, 98-99/Trenton, 99-00); Darren Langdon (Dayton, 92-93)
Chicago – Steve Passmore (Raleigh, 96-97); Steve Poapst (Hampton Roads, 91-93)
Colorado – David Aebischer (Chesapeake/Wheeling, 96-97); Serge Aubin (Hampton Roads, 95-96)
Columbus – Sean Pronger (Greensboro/Knoxville, 94-95); Jody Shelley (Johnstown, 98-00)
Dallas – Aaron Downey (Hampton Roads, 95-97)
Detroit – Manny Legace (Richmond, 96-97)
Edmonton – Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 96-97); Scott Ferguson (Wheeling, 94-95)
Florida – Lance Ward (Miami, 98-99)
Minnesota – Sylvain Blouin (Charlotte, 94-95), Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 93-94); Antti Laaksonen (Charlotte, 97-98)
Nashville – Francis Bouillon (Wheeling, 96-97), Nathan Perrott (Jacksonville, 97-98); Tomas Vokoun (Wheeling, 95-96)
New Jersey – Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 91-92)
New York Islanders – Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 97-98), Eric Cairns (Birmingham, 94-95/ Charlotte, 95-96), *Brandon Smith (Dayton, 94-95)
New York Rangers – Krzysztof Oliwa (Raleigh, 93-96); Dale Purinton (Charlotte, 97-98)
Ottawa – Shane Hnidy (Baton Rouge, 96-97), Patrick Lalime (Hampton Roads, 94-95); *Chris Neil (Mobile, 99-00)
Philadelphia – Todd Fedoruk (Trenton, 99-00); Neil Little (Johnstown, 94-95)
Phoenix – Dan Focht (Mississippi, 98-00)
Pittsburgh – Jean-Sebastien Aubin (Dayton, 97-98); Johan Hedberg (Baton Rouge, 97-98)
St. Louis – Alexander Khavanov (Birmingham; Raleigh, 92-93), Reed Low (Baton Rouge, 97-98); Tyson Nash (Raleigh, 95-96)
San Jose – Shawn Heins (Mobile, 95-97); Ryan Kraft (Richmond, 98-00)
Tampa Bay – Ruslan Fedotenko (Trenton, 99-00), Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 95-96); Andre Roy (Charlotte, 97-98)
Vancouver – Fedor Fedorov (Columbia, 01-02)
Washington – Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 96-98/Trenton, 99-00), Sebastien Charpentier (Hampton Roads, 97-98), Jean-Francois Fortin (Hampton Roads, 99-00/Richmond, 00-01), Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 90-92); Glen Metropolit (Nashville, 95-96/Pensacola, 96-97)
* – Injury Reserve List