The ECHL has 74 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 14th season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has former players on 27 of the 30 teams and has affiliations with 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 19th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There are 30 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. It is the 11th consecutive season that there have been 12 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 28 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2015-16 with referees Jake Brenk, 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, Brandon Gawryletz, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
There have been 569 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 28 who made their debut in 2014-15. The ECHL has had 377 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 313 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 10 seasons for an average of more than 31 per year.
There were six players who played in the ECHL and NHL in 2014-15: Tyler Bunz with Wichita and Edmonton, John Curry with Quad City and Minnesota, Chris Driedger with Evansville and Ottawa, Louis Domingue with Gwinnett, Brett Kulak with Colorado and Calgary and Mackenzie Skapski with Greenville and the New York Rangers.
The ECHL was represented for the 15th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2015 with Chicago Blackhawks Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, General Manager of Minor League Affiliations Mark Bernard, Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart, players Scott Darling and Andrew Desjardins and pro scout Derek Booth. There were 38 former players and 11 coaches on 15 of the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2015, marking the 10th year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 12th 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 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.
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, Josh Bogorad of the Dallas Stars, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, 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.
Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):
(*) – Injured Reserve
Arizona Coyotes (Rapid City Rush) – Associate coach Jim Playfair (Dayton, 1993-96); goaltending coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)
Boston Bruins (Atlanta Gladiators) – Tyler Randell (South Carolina, 2012-13)
Buffalo Sabres (Elmira Jackals) – Head coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94) and goaltending coach Andrew Allen (Dayton, 2000-01 and 2002-03; Macon, 2001-02; Jackson, 2001-02 and Trenton, 2002-05)
Calgary Flames (Adirondack Thunder) – Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07); Micheal Ferland (Utah, 2012-13); Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15) and Joni Ortio (Alaska, 2013-14)
Carolina Hurricanes (Florida Everblades) – Andrej Nestrasil (Toledo, 2011-13)
Colorado Avalanche (Fort Wayne Komets) – Assistant coach Dave Farrish (Louisiana, 2000-04 and Pensacola, 2004-05); Francois Beauchemin (Mississippi, 2001-02); Gabriel Beaupre * (Fort Wayne, 2014-15) and Cody McLeod (San Diego, 2005-06)
Columbus Blue Jackets (Kalamazoo Wings) – Brandon Dubinsky (Alaska, 2012-13)
Edmonton Oilers (Norfolk Admirals) – Assistant coach Ian Herbers (Johnstown, 2007-09); assistant coach Jay Woodcroft (Jackson (1999-00); Brandon Davidson (Stockton, 2012-13); Luke Gazdic (Idaho, 2008-10); Matt Hendricks (Florida, 2004-05); Mark Letestu (Wheeling, 2007-08) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)
Los Angeles Kings (Manchester Monarchs) – Assistant coach Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-2000; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07); developmental goaltending coach Dusty Imoo (Dayton, 1991-92; Erie, 1991-92 and Cincinnati, 1991-92); Kyle Clifford (Ontario, 2012-13); Trevor Lewis (Utah, 2012-13); Jordan Nolan (Ontario, 2009-10); Dwight King * (Ontario, 2009-10) and Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)
Montreal Canadiens (Brampton Beast) – Assistant coach J.J. Daigneault (Phoenix, 2005-06); Mike Condon (Ontario, 2012-13 and Wheeling, 2013-14); David Desharnais (Cincinnati, 2007-08) and Torrey Mitchell (San Francisco, 2012-13)
New Jersey Devils – Assistant coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00)
New York Islanders (Missouri Mavericks) – Head coach Jack Capuano (Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-2005); Goaltending coach Mike Dunham (Gwinnett, 2005-06); Jean-Francois Berube (Ontario, 2011-13); Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07) and Jaroslav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06)
New York Rangers (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) – Video coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92); Cedrick Desjardins * (Cincinnati, 2006-08); Dan Girardi (Charlotte, 2005-06); Mackenzie Skapski * (Greenville, 2014-15) and Nick Tarnasky * (Florida, 2010-11)
Ottawa Senators (Evansville IceMen) –Mike Hoffman (Elmira, 2010-11) and Chris Neil (Mobile, 1999-00)
Philadelphia Flyers (Reading Royals) – Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina, 2008-09) and Mark Streit (Tallahassee, 1999-00)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Goalie development coach Mike Buckley (Mississippi, 2002-04 and Gwinnett, 2003-04); Bobby Farnham (Wheeling, 2012-13); Tom Kuhnhackl (Wheeling, 2012-14) and Jeff Zatkoff (Ontario, 2008-09)
St. Louis Blues – Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08 and Orlando, 2012-13)
San Jose Sharks (Allen Americans) – Assistant coach Bob Boughner (Toledo, 1991-92); assistant coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); assistant coach/goaltending coach Johan Hedberg (Baton Rouge, 1997-98); Martin Jones (Ontario, 2010-11) and Alex Stalock (Stockton, 2011-12)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Orlando Solar Bears) – Goaltending coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02); Mark Arcobello (Stockton, 2010-11); P.A. Parenteau (Augusta, 2005-06); James Reimer (Reading, 2008-09 and South Carolina, 2008-09) and Daniel Winnik (Phoenix, 2006-07)
Vancouver Canucks– Assistant coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-08); Alexandre Burrows (Greenville, 2002-03; Baton Rouge, 2002-03 and Columbia, 2003-05); Adam Cracknell (Las Vegas, 2006-08)
Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Assistant coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-96 and Jacksonville, 1995-96); professional development coach Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 1990-92); Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07); Stanislav Galiev (Reading, 2012-14); Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13) and Braden Holtby (South Carolina, 2009-10)
Winnipeg Jets (Tulsa Oilers) – Assistant coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 1997-98); Assistant coach Pascal Vincent (Knoxville, 1992-93); Goaltending coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90); Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12); Michael Hutchinson (Reading, 2010-12 and Ontario, 2013-14); Adam Pardy (Las Vegas, 2005-06); Anthony Peluso (Alaska, 2009-10) and Mark Stuart (Florida, 2012-13)
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 28th season in 2015-16. There have been 569 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 28 who made their NHL debuts in the 2014-15 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams in 2014-15, marking the 18th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.