PRINCETON, N.J. – Seven former ECHL players have debuted in the National Hockey League over the last six weeks, increasing the number of players to advance to the NHL to 505.
Former Trenton Devils goaltender Jeff Frazee debuted with the New Jersey Devils on March 9, stopping all three shots he faced in 18:36 of playing time in a 6-3 loss at Carolina.
Frazee went 2-2-0 with a 2.65 goals-against average and a save percentage of .912 in five regular-season games with Trenton in 2008-09 and also saw action in four games during the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, posting a 2-2 record with a 2.21 goals-against average and a save percentage of .914. A second-round selection (38th overall) of the Devils in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Frazee has appeared in 187 career American Hockey League games with Lowell and Albany posting an overall record of 73-87-16 with 10 shutouts, a 2.71 goals-against average and a save percentage of .912.
Former South Carolina Stingrays center Steve Pinizzotto made his debut with the Vancouver Canucks in a 7-4 win against Nashville on March 14. The 29-year-old had 29 penalty minutes in 12 games with the Canucks this season.
Pinizzotto tallied 32 points (15g-17a) in 40 regular-season games with South Carolina in 2007-08 and added three points (1g-2a) in 10 games during the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He returned to South Carolina in 2008-09, recording 10 points (4g-6a) in 11 games. A native of Mississiauga, Ontario, Pinizzotto has scored 110 points (38g-72a) in 229 career American Hockey League games with Hershey and Chicago, and he was part of the Bears’ 2009 and 2010 Calder Cup championship clubs.
Former Cincinnati Cyclones left wing Kevin Henderson made his NHL debut for the Nashville Predators on April 19, recording an assist in a 5-4 overtime loss at Chicago.
Henderson saw action in two games with Cincinnati in 2011-12, and has 76 points (31g-45a) in 234 career American Hockey League games with Worcester and Milwaukee.
Former Florida Everblades right wing Jared Staal made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-3 overtime loss against the New York Rangers on April 25, starting the game on a line with brothers Eric and Jordan, becoming the first trio of brothers to play together in the NHL since 1985.
A second round-selection (49th overall) by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Staal tallied 11 points (6g-5a) in 33 games with the Everblades in 2010-11. He has added 18 points (8g-10a) in 119 career American Hockey League games with San Antonio, Providence and Charlotte.
Former Trenton Titans defenseman Matt Konan made his debut with the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders on April 25.
Konan had one assist in five games with Trenton this season while also tallying six points (2g-4a) in 45 games with Adirondack of the American Hockey League.
Former Trenton Titans right wing Jason Akeson scored a goal in his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 win against Ottawa on April 27.
Akeson played in 14 games with the Titans in 2012-13, tallying 10 points (2g-8a), while also seeing action in 62 games with Adirondack of the American Hockey League, posting a team-leading 53 points (20g-33a).
Former Toledo Walleye goaltender Carter Hutton made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on April 27, making 25 saves in a 3-1 loss at St. Louis.
Hutton appeared in 14 games with Toledo in 2011-12, posting a record of 7-7-0 with a 3.15 goals-against average and a save percentage of .900. In 120 career American Hockey League games with Adirondack, Worcester and Rockford, he has gone 60-44-8 with seven shutouts, a 2.64 goals-against average and a save percentage of .911.
Twenty-two ECHL players have made their NHL debuts this season: former Trenton Titans right wing Jason Akeson (Philadelphia on April 27), former Gwinnett Gladiators forward Matt Anderson (New Jersey on Jan. 29), former Stockton Thunder center and 2011 ECHL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Mark Arcobello (Edmonton on Feb. 6), former Utah Grizzlies defenseman and 2010 ECHL All-Star Victor Bartley (Nashville on March 8), former Charlotte Checkers, Wheeling Nailers, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Florida Everblades and Augsuta Lynx left wing Patrick Bordeleau (Colorado on Jan. 19), former Cincinnati Cyclones forward Cory Conacher (Tampa Bay on Jan. 19), former Trenton Devils goaltender Jeff Frazee (New Jersey on March 9), former South Carolina Stingrays and Reading Royals goaltender and 2013 ECHL All-Star Philipp Grubauer (Washington on Feb. 27), former Cincinnati Cyclones left wing Kevin Henderson (Nashville on April 19), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Carter Hutton (Chicago on April 27), former Trenton Titans defenseman Matt Konan (Philadelphia on April 25), former Ontario Reign and Orlando Solar Bears goaltender Darcy Kuemper (Minnesota on Feb. 12), former Toledo Walleye defenseman Brian Lashoff (Detroit on Jan. 21), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Petr Mrazek (Detroit on Feb. 7), former Las Vegas Wranglers, Toledo Walleye and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Steve Oleksy (Washington on March 5), former Alaska Aces right wing Anthony Peluso (Winnipeg on Feb. 12), former South Carolina Stingrays center Steve Pinizzotto (Vancouver on March 14), former Ontario Reign right wing Jon Rheault (Florida on March 5), former Reading Royals left wing Antoine Roussel (Dallas on Feb. 1), former Florida Everblades right wing Jared Staal (Carolina on April 25), former Wheeling Nailers center and 2011 ECHL All-Star Ben Street (Calgary on Feb. 9) and former Toledo Storm right wing and 2007 ECHL All-Star Jamie Tardif (Boston on Feb. 2).
The ECHL had a record 87 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 81 from a year ago and marking the 10th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 16th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 512 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 23 in 2011-12. The ECHL has had 320 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 256 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last eight seasons for an average of 32 per year.
There are 30 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 Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel. It is the eighth 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 26 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2012-13 with referees Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, 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 12th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2012 with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon, players Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick, manager of communications/broadcasting Jeremy Zager and scouts Steve Greeley, Mark Mullen and Mark Yannetti. Quick was named recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the second consecutive year a former ECHL player won the award. There were 43 former players and 13 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, marking the seventh year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the ninth 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 wasPhil 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 celebrates 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 23 teams in 16 states in 2011-12.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• In the last eight seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,500 call-ups involving more than 1,800 players and in 2011-12 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,281 fans per game in 2011-12, marking the eighth consecutive season and the 20th time in the last 22 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.