For the 17th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh Penguins’ players Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Mark Streit, Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley, Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos, Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey, Amateur Scouts Ryan Bowness and Warren Young, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze.
The Wheeling Nailers are the ECHL affiliate of the Penguins. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 26 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2016-17, marking the 20th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had 76 players on NHL opening-day rosters, marking the 14th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Archibald posted 11 points (7g-4a) in nine games with Wheeling during the 2014-15 season and has appeared in 11 games with Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, posting three points (3g-0a). He saw action in four games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Kuhnhackl, who also had his named engraved on the Stanley Cup last season, made his professional debut with Wheeling in 2012-13, scoring one goal in two games and added 14 points (7g-7a) in 16 regular-season games with the Nailers in 2013-14 before tallying six goals in 10 games during the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He made his NHL debut with the Penguins on Jan. 9, 2016 and has gone on to record 31 points (9g-22a) 99 career regular-season games and seven points (3g-4a) in 35 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Rowney suited up in 44 games with the Nailers during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, posting 51 points (14g-37a). He made his NHL debut on Jan. 31, 2017, and went on to score seven points (3g-4a) in 27 regular-season games before adding three assists in 20 postseason contests.
Streit tallied five assists in 14 games with Tallahassee during the 1999-2000 season and has gone on to post 434 points (96g-338a) in 784 career NHL games with Montreal, New York Islanders, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He was acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline, posting six points (1g-5a) in 19 regular-season games with Pittsburgh while adding two assists in three postseason contests.
Buckley, who is in his fourth season as the Penguins’ goalie development coach, is responsible for working with and assisting in the development of goalie prospects and players throughout the Penguins’ organization. He appeared in 12 ECHL games with the Mississippi Sea Wolves and Gwinnett Gladiators during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.
It is the third time Karmanos, who is in his third season as Pittsburgh’s vice president of hockey operations, has captured the Stanley Cup title, after also winning as an executive with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. He played 16 games in the ECHL with the Raleigh IceCaps in 1996-97, tallying eight points (3g-5a).
Clancey also was part of the Penguins’ scouting staff during their Stanley Cup titles in 2009 and 2016. He ranks seventh in ECHL history with 367 career assists and is 23rd with 524 points in 391 career games with Winston-Salem, Erie, Toledo, Columbus and Chesapeake. He also coached six seasons in the ECHL with Jackson and Reading from 1999-2005, posting an overall record of 180-136-42.
Bowness scored one goal in 12 games with Ontario during the 2008-09 season while Young served as head coach of the Louisville IceHawks from 1990-93 and of the Louisville RiverFrogs from 1995-98 with an overall record of 208-211-51.
It is the fourth Stanley Cup title for both Stewart and Heinze, who held similar roles in the ECHL with the Johnstown Chiefs. Both were part of the Penguins’ staff during the team’s 2009 and 2016 titles, with Stewart also winning a title with Carolina in 2006 and Heinze with Tampa Bay in 2004.
In addition to the members of the Penguins, there are 33 other ECHL alums who have been on the Stanley Cup winner: Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley, Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos, player Tom Kuhnhackl; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey, Amateur Scout Warren Young, Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze (Pittsburgh – 2016); Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard, Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart, players Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins and Pro Scout Derek Booth (Chicago – 2015); Assistant Coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Martin Jones, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2014); Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon, players Sheldon Brookbank and Daniel Carcillo, Vice President/Assistant to the President Al MacIsaac, Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart and General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard (Chicago – 2013); Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2012); Assistant Coach Geoff Ward and players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011); Vice President Al MacIsaac, Assistant Coach Mike Haviland, Associate Coach John Torchetti and Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart (Chicago – 2010); Head Coach Dan Bylsma and player Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009); Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008); Assistant Coach Dave Farrish and players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007); Head Coach Peter Laviolette and players Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (Carolina – 2006); Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004); Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003); Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002); David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001); Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995).
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 49 former players and 16 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the 12th year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 14th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 13th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 623 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 24 who made their debut in 2016-17. The ECHL has had 431 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 367 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 12 seasons for an average of more than 30 per year.
There were four players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2015-16: Chris Driedger with Wichita and Ottawa, Marek Langhamer with Rapid City and Arizona, Zane McIntyre with Atlanta and Boston and Alex Nedeljkovic with Florida and Carolina.
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.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets.
There were 32 former ECHL officials who worked 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, 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.
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 623 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including 24 who made their debut in the 2016-17 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 Twitter and Facebook.