PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Wheeling Nailers right wing Michel Ouellet made his National Hockey League debut on Tuesday with the Pittsburgh Penguins becoming the 277th player to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL and the 21st former ECHL player to play his first NHL game in 2005-06.
The 23-year-old was a +1 and had one shot while logging 10:23 of ice time on 16 shifts, including 1:08 on the power play, in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals.
Selected in the fourth round (124th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and re-signed in August, the 6-0 and 200-pound Ouellet began the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and ranked second in the league with 19 assists and 29 points in 17 games.
Ouellet began his professional career with Wheeling in 2002-03 scoring 46 points (20g-26a) in 55 games and leading the Nailers in power-play goals with seven while also registering two assists in four games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The native of Rimouski, Quebec has 143 points (71g-72a) in 180 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL and there are 93 players on ECHL rosters under contract to teams in the National Hockey League. There is one head coach, 12 assistant coaches, 13 referees and five linesmen working in the NHL in 2005-06 who have ECHL experience and there have been 66 former ECHL players who have played in the NHL this season.
There have been 21 players in 2005-06 that have made their first NHL appearance since playing in the ECHL: Evgeny Artyukhin (Tampa Bay on October 20), Adam Berkhoel (Atlanta on October 15), Derek Boogaard (Minnesota on October 5), Kevin Colley (New York Islanders on October 27), Brian Eklund (Tampa Bay on November 8), Michael Garnett (Atlanta on October 12), Trevor Gillies (Anaheim on November 6), Steven Goertzen (Columbus on October 21), Jeff Giuliano (Los Angeles on November 5), Timo Helbling (Tampa Bay on October 5), Colin Hemingway (St. Louis on October 19), Raitis Ivanans (Montreal on October 8), Greg Jacina (Florida on November 12), Zenon Konopka (Anaheim on October 30), Jay Leach (Boston on November 5), Mike Morrison (Edmonton on November 7), Michel Ouellet (Pittsburgh on November 22), George Parros (Los Angeles on October 5), Nolan Schaefer (San Jose on October 26), Martin St. Pierre (Chicago on November 4), and Mark Streit (Montreal on October 8).