For the 18th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Washington Capitals’ players Jay Beagle, Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby, Associate Coach Todd Reirden, Professional Development Coach Olaf Kolzig, Pro Scout/Minor League Operations Jason Fitzsimmons, Manager of Hockey Analytics H.T. Lenz, Head Athletic Trainer Jason Serbus and Equipment Assistant Dave Marin.
The South Carolina Stingrays are the ECHL affiliate of the Capitals. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League had affiliations with 26 of the 31 teams in the NHL in 2017-18, marking the 21st consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had 66 players on NHL opening-day rosters, marking the 15th year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Beagle becomes the first person to ever win the Kelly Cup, Calder Cup and Stanley Cup during his career. He made his pro debut with the Idaho Steelheads late in the 2006-07 season, tallying 10 points (2g-8a) in eight games before posting three points (1g-2a) in 18 games during the postseason, as the Steelheads won the 2007 Kelly Cup title over Dayton. He captured the Calder Cup championship with the Hershey Bears in both 2009 and 2010 and has tallied 116 points (51g-65a) in 471 career NHL games with the Capitals.
Grubauer was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team in 2011-12 while with the South Carolina Stingrays and was the starting goaltender for the ECHL All-Stars in the 2013 ECHL All-Star Classic while with the Reading Royals. He became the first player in ECHL history to appear in the All-Star Game and National Hockey League in the same season when he debuted with the Capitals on Feb. 27, 2013 at Philadelphia.
Holtby appeared in 12 games for South Carolina in 2009-10, posting a record of 7-2-3 with a 2.95 goals-against average and a save percentage of .911 while being named to the 2010 ECHL All-Star Classic where he earned Outstanding Goaltender honors during the Skills Competition.
Reirden made his pro debut as a player in the ECHL with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks in 1994-95, recording 30 points (5g-25a) in 43 games. He went on to see additional ECHL action with Raleigh and Jacksonville before appearing 183 career NHL games. Reirden is in his fourth season with the Capitals after spending four seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kolzig led the ECHL in the 1991-92 regular season with a .914 save percentage while going 11-3-0 with a 2.90 goals against average in 14 regular-season games with the Hampton Roads Admirals. He was selected as an NHL All-Star in 1998 and 2000 and became the first former ECHL player to win the Vezina Trophy in 1999-2000. Kolzig was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2010.
Fitzsimmons appeared in 93 career ECHL games with Columbus and South Carolina with an overall record of 52-25-10, and leading the Stingrays to the 1997 Kelly Cup title. He added another championship as an assistant coach with South Carolina in 2001, and went on to serve as the team’s head coach for five seasons from 2002-07.
Lenz tallied 22 points (11g-11a) in 62 games with the Utah Grizzlies during the 2014-15 season.
Serbus is in his first season with the Capitals after spending nine seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. He spent four seasons in the ECHL with the Pensacola Ice Pilots, earning “Athletic Trainer of the Year for Professional Sports” honors by the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida in 2003.
Marin is in his 10th season overall with the Capitals, and seventh as the equipment assistant. Prior to joining the Capitals, Marin spent two years as assistant equipment manager with the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno.
In addition to the members of the Capitals, the following ECHL alums have been on the Stanley Cup winner: Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; players Josh Archibald, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney and Mark Streit; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey; Amateur Scouts Ryan Bowness and Warren Young; Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze (Pittsburgh – 2017); Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley; Vice President of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos; player Tom Kuhnhackl; Director of Pro Scouting Derek Clancey; Amateur Scout Warren Young; Head Athletic Trainer Chris Stewart and Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze (Pittsburgh – 2016); 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 (Chicago – 2015); Assistant Coach Davis Payne; players Kyle Clifford; Trevor Lewis; Martin Jones; Dwight King; Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2014); 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 (Chicago – 2013); Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles – 2012); Assistant Coach Geoff Ward and players Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas (Boston – 2011); Vice President Al MacIsaac, Assistant Coach Mike Haviland, Associate Coach John Torchetti and Director of Pro Scouting Ryan Stewart (Chicago – 2010); Head Coach Dan Bylsma and player Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009); Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008); Assistant Coach Dave Farrish and players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007); Head Coach Peter Laviolette and players Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (Carolina – 2006); Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004); Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003); Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002); David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001); Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995).
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 32 former players and 20 coaches on the 16 teams. It was the 13th year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the 15th consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the 14th straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 641 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 18 who made their debut in 2017-18. The ECHL has had 449 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 385 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last 13 seasons for an average of more than 29 per year.
There were three players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2017-18: Ken Appleby with Adirondack and New Jersey, Collin Delia with Indy and Chicago and Brandon Halverson with Greenville and the New York Rangers.
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.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dan D’Uva and Dave Goucher of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets.
There were 31 former ECHL officials who worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2017-18 with referees Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, 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, Ryan Daisy, Brandon Gawryletz, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Bevin Mills, Kory Nagy, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 30th season in 2017-18. There have been 641 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 18 who have made their NHL debuts in the 2017-18 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 31 NHL teams in 2017-18, marking the 21st 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 Twitter and Facebook.