PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Bakersfield and 2005 ECHL All-Star center Connor James made his National Hockey League debut with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and becomes the 288th player to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL and the 32nd former ECHL player to play his first NHL game this season.
The 23-year-old, who signed with Los Angeles on Jan. 4, had one shot and won two faceoffs as he played 7:30 and skated 14 shifts for the Kings in a 3-2 loss at San Jose.
The 5-foot-10 and 168-pound James spent the majority of his first professional season in the ECHL with Bakersfield and he tied for the ECHL rookie lead with four shorthand goals and six shorthand points while ranking third among league rookies in plus-minus rating with +25. Selected to the ECHL All-Star Game, James had 46 points (21g-25a) in 51 regular season games and four points (3g-1a) in five Kelly Cup Playoff games for the Condors.
Selected in the ninth round (279th overall) by Los Angeles in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, James played 14 games with Manchester as a rookie in 2004-05, recording three points (2g-1a) and 10 penalty minutes, and has 22 points (9g-13a) and a plus-minus rating of +10 in 33 games with Manchester in 2005-06.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there are over 100 players on ECHL rosters under contract to an NHL team. There is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 13 referees and five linesmen currently in the NHL with ECHL experience. Chris Holt (Charlotte and New York Rangers) and Mike Morrison (Greenville and Edmonton) have played in both the ECHL and the NHL this season. Chris Beckford-Tseu of Alaska was called up and served as the backup goaltender for St. Louis on Dec. 17 while Maxime Daigneault of South Carolina was called up and served as the backup goaltender for Washington on Dec. 31 and Jan 1 and Frederic Cloutier of Pensacola was the backup goaltender for the New York Islanders on Jan. 6 and 7. Former ECHL goaltenders have won the NHL Defensive Player of the Week four times with Tomas Vokoun, Wheeling and Nashville (Dec. 5), Morrison, Greenville and Edmonton (Nov. 28), Curtis Sanford, Peoria and St. Louis (Nov. 21) and Manny Legace, Richmond and Detroit (Nov. 1).
(Complete List of ECHL Players Who Have Made NHL Debut In 2005-06 On Page 2)
There have been 32 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL:
Evgeny Artyukhin (Tampa Bay on Oct. 20)
Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on Oct. 15)
Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on Oct. 5)
Alexandre Burrows (Vancouver on Jan. 2)
Kevin Colley (New York Islanders on Oct. 27)
Ryan Craig (Tampa Bay on Dec. 17)
Brian Eklund (Tampa Bay on Nov. 8)
Michael Garnett (Atlanta on Oct. 12)
Trevor Gillies (Anaheim on Nov. 6)
Steven Goertzen (Columbus on Oct. 21)
Jeff Giuliano (Los Angeles on Nov. 5)
Josh Gratton (Philadelphia on Dec. 15)
Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on Oct. 5)
Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on Oct. 19)
Chris Holt (New York Rangers on Dec. 3)
Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on Oct. 8)
Greg Jacina (Florida on Nov. 12)
Connor James (Los Angeles on Jan. 7)
Zenon Konopka (Anaheim on Oct. 30)
Chad LaRose (Carolina on Dec. 6)
Jay Leach (Boston on Nov. 5)
Rob McVicar (Vancouver on Dec. 1)
Mike Morrison (Edmonton on Nov. 7)
Michel Ouellet (Pittsburgh on Nov. 22)
George Parros (Los Angeles on Oct. 5)
Geoff Platt (Columbus on Dec. 2)
Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on Oct. 26)
Martin St. Pierre (Chicago on Nov. 4)
David Steckel (Washington on Dec. 31)
Grant Stevenson (San Jose on Nov. 23)
Mark Streit (Montreal on Oct. 8)
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Columbus on Nov. 23)