Five former ECHL players have debuted in the National Hockey League over the last two weeks, increasing the number of players to advance to the NHL to 520.
Former Ontario Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff debuted with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 11, making 21 saves in a 6-3 loss at Florida.
Selected in the third round (74th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Zatkoff made his pro debut with the Reign in 2008-09, appearing in 37 games and posting a record of 17-15-3 with one shutout, a 2.97 goals-against average and a save percentage of .915. Prior to this season, he had appeared in 163 American Hockey League games with Manchester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, going 78-65-6 with 13 shutouts, a 2.42 goals-against average and a save percentage of .917.
Former Toledo Walleye forward Luke Glendening made his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-2 win against Philadelphia on Oct. 12.
Glendening posted 21 points (14g-7a) in 27 games with Toledo last season. He was named to the ECHL All-Star Team, but was unable to participate due to being recalled to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old tallied 26 points (8g-18a) in 51 regular-season games with the Griffins, and then added 16 points (6g-10a) in 24 postseason contests, helping to lead Grand Rapids to its first Calder Cup championship.
Former Greenville Road Warriors goaltender Cam Talbot saw his first NHL action with the New York Rangers on Oct. 24 at Philadelphia. Talbot made 25 saves in a 2-1 loss in his debut and then earned his first NHL win on Oct. 26, stopping 32 shots in a 3-2 overtime win at Detroit.
Talbot appeared in two games with the Road Warriors during the 2011-12 season, going 1-0-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a save percentage of .921. The 26-year-old has seen action in 116 career American Hockey League games with Hartford and Connecticut, posting an overall record of 54-52-5 with eight shutouts, a 2.68 goals-against average and a save percentage of .914.
Former Kalamazoo Wings forward Darren Archibald debuted with the Vancouver Canucks in a 3-2 overtime win at St. Louis on Oct. 25.
Archibald recorded 58 points (20g-38a) in 67 games with the K-Wings during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. The 23-year-old added six points (2g-4a) in 14 games during the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He also spent time with Chicago of the American Hockey League in both of those seasons, tallying 23 points (13g-10a) in 75 games. Archibald began this season with Utica of the American Hockey League, posting two points (1g-1a) in four games.
Former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Magnus Hellberg made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators in a 6-1 loss against St. Louis on Oct. 26. The 22-year-old stopped three of the four shots he faced in 12:12 of playing time.
A second-round selection (38th overall) of the Predators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Hellberg saw action in two games with the Cyclones in 2012-13, going 1-1-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a save percentage of .923. He has appeared in 42 AHL games with Milwaukee over the last two seasons, going 23-15-0 with six shutouts, a 2.14 goals-against average and a save percentage of .923.
The ECHL had a record 93 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 87 from a year ago and marking the 11th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 520 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13. The ECHL has had 328 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 264 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 29 per year.
There are 29 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and 2011 Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel. It is the ninth consecutive season that there have been 11 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 27 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2012-13 with referees Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Mike Leggo, Dave Lewis, T.J. Luxmore, 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, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
The ECHL was represented for the 13th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2013 with Chicago Blackhawks 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. There were 53 former players and 18 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the eighth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 10th 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 and current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach 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, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville works in the communications department for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One Sports, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012-13 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 22 teams in 15 states in 2013-14.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 30 teams in the American Hockey League in 2013-14 and for the past 24 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.