PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Toledo defenseman Andrew Hutchinson became the 218th former ECHL player to advance to the National Hockey League when he made his debut with Nashville on Saturday. Hutchinson played 24 shifts and had two shots and two penalty minutes while finishing +1 in the Predators’ 3-2 win over Columbus.
Selected by Nashville in the second round (54th overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Hutchinson scored seven points (2g-5a) in 10 games with Toledo in 2002-03. The 6-2 and 185-pound Hutchinson scored 26 points (9g-17a) in 63 regular season games and one goal in three postseason games with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League in 2002-03.
Hutchinson becomes the third ECHL player to make his NHL debut in 2003-04, joining Michael Ryder, who played for Montreal on October 9, and Garrett Burnett, who played for Anaheim on October 8.
There were 53 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the record of 50 players set in 2002-03, and there were ECHL players on 28 of the 30 NHL teams.
There were 90 ECHL players that played in the NHL in 2002-03, including 20 that made their first-ever appearance. The 20 players who made their NHL debut in 2002-03 were: Francois Beauchemin (Montreal), Zdenek Blatny (Atlanta), Joe Corvo (Los Angeles), Fedor Fedorov (Vancouver), Vern Fiddler (Nashville), Brian Finley (Nashville), Simon Gamache (Atlanta), Ryan Kraft (San Jose), Kent McDonell (Columbus), Brett McLean (Chicago), Rick Mrozik (Calgary), Cody Rudkowsky (St. Louis), Curtis Sanford (St. Louis), Cam Severson (Anaheim), Mike Siklenka (Philadelphia), Chris Schmidt (Los Angeles), Jerred Smithson (Los Angeles), Tim Thomas (Boston), John Tripp (New York Rangers) and Matt Walker (St. Louis). Finley, Johan Holmqvist and Rudkowsky each played in both the ECHL and the NHL in 2002-03.