Three former ECHL players have debuted in the National Hockey League over the last two months, increasing the number of players to advance to the NHL to 528.
Former Toledo Walleye goaltender Kent Simpson made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 14, playing the third period of Chicago’s 7-3 loss at Toronto.
Selected by the Blackhawks in the second round (58th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Simpson appeared in 41 games with Toledo in 2012-13, posting a record 20-14-5 with two shutouts and ranking sixth in the league with a 2.36 goals-against average and tied for ninth with a .912 save percentage. The 21-year-old has appeared in 26 career games with Rockford of the American Hockey League, including 23 appearances this season.
Former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Philip Samuelsson appeared in his first NHL game with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-1 win against Toronto on Dec. 16.
Selected by the Penguins in the second round (61st overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Samuelsson had one assist in five games with Wheeling in 2011-12 while also seeing action in three games during the 2011 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The son of long-time NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, he has played in 158 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, where he has posted 19 points (3g-16a) in 47 games this season.
Former Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Checkers, Greenville Road Warriors and Reading Royals defenseman Julien Brouillette made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals in a 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Feb. 6. On Feb. 8, his first NHL goal was the game-winning goal in the Capitals’ 3-0 win against New Jersey.
The 27-year old made his pro debut with Columbia in 2007-08 before spending the next two seasons in Charlotte. During the 2010-11 season with Greenville, he was selected as a starting defenseman for the ECHL All-Star Game, but was unable to participate due to being recalled to the American Hockey League. Brouilliette posted 102 points (41g-61a) in 210 career ECHL games and he has added 64 points (21g-43a) in 239 career American Hockey League games with Providence, Hartford, Charlotte, Lake Erie and Hershey.
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 528 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13. The ECHL has had 336 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 272 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 30 per year.
There are 29 coaches with an ECHL background are 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 and Florida Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek. 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.
The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, 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 26 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.