The ECHL has 76 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 15th season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has former players on 28 of the 30 teams and has affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 20th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There are 36 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma, Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. It is the 12th consecutive season that there have been 12 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award. Bylsma, who played in the ECHL with Greensboro from 1992-94, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2010-11.
There are 32 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2016-17 with referees Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Pierre Lambert, Mike Leggo, Dave Lewis, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Brandon Gawryletz, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Kory Nagy, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
There have been 599 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 30 who made their NHL debuts in the 2015-16 season. The ECHL has had 407 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 343 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 11 seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
There were five players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2015-16: Ben Harpur with Evansville and Ottawa, Ross Johnston with Missouri and the New York Islanders, Mackenzie Skapski with Greenville and the New York Rangers, Garret Sparks with Orlando and Toronto and Scott Wedgewood with Adirondack and New Jersey.
The ECHL was represented for the 16th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2016 with Pittsburgh Penguins’ player Tom Kuhnhackl, goalie development coach Mike Buckley, Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos, Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey, Amateur Scout Warren Young, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze. There were 40 former players and 15 coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2016, marking the 11th year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 13th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean Sebastien Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 while the 300th was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on April 11, 2006. The 400th was Phil Oreskovic on March 9, 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs while the 500th player honor is shared by Anthony Peluso and Darcy Kuemper, who both made their debut on Feb. 12, 2013 with the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild, respectively.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues and Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets.
Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):
(*) – Injured Reserve
Arizona Coyotes (Rapid City Rush) – Associate Coach Jim Playfair (Dayton, 1993-96); Goaltending Coach (Prospects) Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92); Louis Domingue (Gwinnett, 2012-15) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)
Boston Bruins (Atlanta Gladiators) – Assistant Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 1996-98 and Trenton, 1999-00) and Anton Khudobin (Texas, 2007-08 and Florida, 2008-09)
Buffalo Sabres (Elmira Jackals) – Head Coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94), Assistant Coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05) and Goaltending Coach Andrew Allen (Dayton, 2000-01 and 2002-03; Macon, 2001-02; Jackson, 2001-02 and Trenton, 2002-05)
Calgary Flames (Adirondack Thunder) – Head Coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-09); Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07); Micheal Ferland (Utah, 2012-13) and Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15)
Colorado Avalanche (Colorado Eagles) – Head coach Jared Bednar (Huntington, 1993-96 and South Carolina, 1996-09), Assistant Coach Dave Farrish (Louisiana, 2000-04 and Pensacola, 2004-05); Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 1995-96); Francois Beauchemin (Mississippi, 2001-02); Mason Geertsen * (Fort Wayne, 2015-16); Cody McLeod (San Diego, 2005-06) and Reid Petryk * (Fort Wayne, 2014-15)
Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye) – Assistant Coach John Torchetti (Carolina, 1988-89; Winston-Salem, 1989-91; and Greensboro, 1993-95); Assistant Coach Pat Ferschweller (Roanoke, 1993-95); Goaltending Coach Jeff Salajko (Columbus, 1996-99, Arkansas, 1999-02; Reading, 2001-02; Peoria, 2001-02 and Charlotte, 2001-03); Luke Glendening (Toledo, 2012-13); Petr Mrazek (Toledo, 2012-13) and Edward Pasquale (Gwinnett, 2010-11 and Brampton, 2015-16)
Edmonton Oilers (Norfolk Admirals) – Assistant Coach Ian Herbers (Johnstown, 2007-09); Assistant Coach Jay Woodcroft (Jackson (1999-00); Brandon Davidson (Stockton, 2012-13); Matt Hendricks * (Florida, 2004-05); Mark Letestu (Wheeling, 2007-08) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)
Florida Panthers – Assistant Coach Scott Allen (Carolina, 1988-89; Winston-Salem, 1989-90; Erie, 1989-90; Greensboro, 1989-90, Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Johnstown, 1996-02); Goaltending Coach Rob Tallas (Charlotte, 1994-95); Shane Harper (Greenville, 2010-11 and Trenton, 2012-13); Steven Hodges * (Cincinnati, 2014-15 and Manchester, 2015-16) and James Reimer (Reading, 2008-09 and South Carolina, 2008-09)
Los Angeles Kings (Manchester Monarchs) – Assistant Coach Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-2000; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07); Developmental Goaltending Coach Dusty Imoo (Dayton, 1991-92; Erie, 1991-92 and Cincinnati, 1991-92); Kyle Clifford (Ontario, 2012-13); Trevor Lewis (Utah, 2012-13); Jordan Nolan (Ontario, 2009-10); Dwight King (Ontario, 2009-10); Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08) and Jeff Zatkoff (Ontario, 2008-09)
Minnesota Wild (Quad City Mallards) – Head Coach Bruce Boudreau (Mississippi, 1996-99); Victor Bartley * (Utah, 2009-10); Devan Dubnyk (Stockton, 2006-07) and Darcy Kuemper (Ontario, 2011-12 and Orlando, 2012-13)
Montreal Canadiens (Brampton Beast) – Assistant Coach J.J. Daigneault (Phoenix, 2005-06); Assistant Coach Dan Lacroix (Atlantic City, 2001-02); David Desharnais (Cincinnati, 2007-08); Torrey Mitchell (San Francisco, 2012-13) and Al Montoya (Charlotte, 2005-06)
Nashville Predators (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98) and Anthony Bitetto (Cincinnati, 2012-13)
New Jersey Devils – Assistant Coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00); Vern Fiddler (Arkansas, 2000-01 and Roanoke, 2001-02), Luke Gazdic * (Idaho, 2008-10) and PA Parenteau (Augusta, 2005-06)
New York Islanders (Missouri Mavericks) – Head Coach Jack Capuano (Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-2005); Goaltending Coach Mike Dunham (Gwinnett, 2005-06); Jean-Francois Berube (Ontario, 2011-13); Eric Boulton * (Charlotte, 1996-98; Florida, 1998-99 and Columbia, 2004-05); Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07); Jaroslav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06) and Alan Quine (Stockton, 2013-14)
New York Rangers (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) – Video Coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92) and Dan Girardi (Charlotte, 2005-06)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley (Mississippi, 2002-04 and Gwinnett, 2003-04); Mike Condon (Ontario, 2012-13 and Wheeling, 2013-14) and Tom Kuhnhackl (Wheeling, 2012-14)
San Jose Sharks (Allen Americans) – Assistant Coach Bob Boughner (Toledo, 1991-92); Assistant Coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); Assistant Coach/Goaltending Coach Johan Hedberg (Baton Rouge, 1997-98); Aaron Dell (Utah, 2013-14 and Allen, 2014-15); Micheal Haley (South Carolina, 2006-07 and Utah, 2007-08) and Martin Jones (Ontario, 2010-11)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Orlando Solar Bears) – Goaltending Coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02)
Vancouver Canucks (Alaska Aces) –Alexandre Burrows (Greenville, 2002-03; Baton Rouge, 2002-03 and Columbia, 2003-05)
Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Assistant Coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-96 and Jacksonville, 1995-96); Professional Development Coach Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 1990-92); Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07); Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13); Braden Holtby (South Carolina, 2009-10) and Daniel Winnik (Phoenix, 2006-07)
Winnipeg Jets (Tulsa Oilers) – Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 1997-98); Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90); Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12); Michael Hutchinson (Reading, 2010-12 and Ontario, 2013-14) and Mark Stuart (Florida, 2012-13)
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 29th season in 2016-17. There have been 599 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 30 who made their NHL debuts in the 2015-16 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2016-17, marking the 20th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.