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ECHL has 57 former players on NHL Opening Day Rosters

The ECHL has 57 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 19th season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has a player or coach on 29 of the 31 teams and has affiliations with 25 of the 31 teams in the NHL, marking the 23rd consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

There are 37 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau, Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette and Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden. It is the 15th consecutive season that there have been 12 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Laviolette, who coached the Wheeling Nailers during the 1997-98 season, became the first former ECHL coach to serve as head coach of a Stanley Cup champion with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, while Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons and won 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.

There are 33 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2019-20 with referees Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, 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, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Jesse Marquis, Bevin Mills, Kory Nagy and Bryan Pancich.

There have been 662 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 20 who made their NHL debuts in the 2018-19 season. The ECHL has had 470 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 406 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 14 seasons for an average of 29 per year.

There were three players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2018-19: Kaden Fulcher with Toledo and Detroit, Marcus Hogberg with Brampton and Ottawa and Kole Sherwood with Jacksonville and Columbus.

The ECHL was represented for the 19th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2019 with St. Louis Blues’ goaltender Jordan Binnington; Executive Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer Steve Chapman; Vice President, Broadcast and Content Development Chris Kerber; Assistant GM and Director of Amateur Scouting Bill Armstrong; Pro Scout Dave Farrish; Assistant Athletic Trainer Dustin Flynn and Equipment Assistant Andrew Dvorak. There were 32 former players and 20 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2019, marking the 14th year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the 16th 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. The 600th former ECHL player to reach the NHL was Florida Panthers forward Shane Harper on Oct. 13, 2016.

Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Josh Bogorad of the Dallas Stars, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets while former ECHL players Shane Hnidy and Mike McKenna are analysts with the Golden Knights.

Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):

 (*) – Injured Reserve

Anaheim Ducks – Assistant Coach Mark Morrison (Victoria, 2006-11); Assistant Coach Mart Wilford (Columbus, 1997-98) and Carter Rowney (Wheeling, 2013-15)

Arizona Coyotes (Rapid City Rush) – Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92); Goaltending Development Coach Zac Bierk (Augusta, 2001-02) and Darcy Kuemper (Ontario, 2011-12 and Orlando, 2012-13)

Boston Bruins (Atlanta Gladiators) – Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 1996-98 and Trenton, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Kevin Dean (Cincinnati, 1991-92 and Trenton, 2010-11) and Jarsolav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06)

Buffalo Sabres (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Assistant Coach Don Granato (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1997-99 and Peoria, 1999-00); Jean-Sebastien Dea (Wheeling, 2014-15) and Carter Hutton (Toledo, 2011-12)

Calgary Flames (Kansas City Mavericks) – Assistant Coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)

Carolina Hurricanes (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) –Petr Mrazek (Toledo, 2012-13) and James Reimer (Reading and South Carolina, 2008-09)

Colorado Avalanche (Utah Grizzlies) – Head Coach Jared Bednar (Huntington, 1993-96 and South Carolina, 1996-09); Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 1995-96); Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Goaltending Coach Manny Lagace (Richmond, 1996-97) and Brandon Dubinsky * (Alaska, 2012-13)

Dallas Stars (Idaho Steelheads) – Justin Dowling (Utah, 2011-12 and Idaho, 2012-13) and Anton Khudobin (Texas, 2007-08 and Florida, 2008-09)

Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye) – Assistant Coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94); Assistant Coach Adam Nighingale (Greenville, 2004-06 and Charlotte, 2006-08); Goaltending Coach Jeff Salajko (Columbus, 1996-99, Arkansas, 1999-02; Reading, 2001-02; Peoria, 2001-02 and Charlotte, 2001-03) and Luke Glendening (Toledo, 2012-13)

Edmonton Oilers (Wichita Thunder) – Associate Coach Jim Playfair (Dayton, 1993-96); Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-09); Josh Archibald (Wheeling, 2014-15); Mikko Koskinen (Utah, 2009-10) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)

Florida Panthers – Assistant Coach Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 1993-94); Goaltending Coach Rob Tallas (Charlotte, 1994-95); Josh Brown (Manchester, 2015-16); Jayce Hawryluk (Manchester, 2017-18); Mike Hoffman (Elmira, 2010-11); Dryden Hunt (Manchester, 2016-17) and Mackenzie Weegar (Cincinnati, 2014-15)

Los Angeles Kings – Jack Campbell (Idaho, 2014-16); Kyle Clifford (Ontario, 2012-13); Trevor Lewis (Utah, 2012-13); Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)

Minnesota Wild (Allen Americans) – Head Coach Bruce Boudreau (Mississippi, 1996-99); Assistant Coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05); Devan Dubnyk (Stockton, 2006-07) and Alex Stalock (Stockton, 2011-12)                                                                    

Montreal Canadiens – Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12); Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15) and Nate Thompson (Alaska, 2012-13)

Nashville Predators (Florida Everblades) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98)

New Jersey Devils (Adirondack Thunder) – Assistant Coach Rick Kowalsky (Hampton Roads, 1994-00; Trenton, 2000-01; 2004-05 and 2006-10; and Roanoke, 2001-04); Mackenzie Blackwood (Adirondack, 2017-18)

New York Islanders (Worcester Railers) – Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07); Ross Johnston (Missouri, 2015-16) and Tom Kuhnhackl (Wheeling, 2012-14)

New York Rangers (Maine Mariners) – Video Coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92)

Ottawa Senators (Brampton Beast) – Associate Coach Jack Capuano (Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-05); Assistant Coah Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-00; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07) and Scott Sabourin (Manchester, 2015-16)

Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Goaltending Coach Mike Buckley (Mississippi, 2002-04 and Gwinnett, 2003-04)

San Jose Sharks – Assistant Coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); Assistant Coach/Goaltending Coach Johan Hedberg (Baton Rouge, 1997-98); Aaron Dell (Utah, 2013-14 and Allen, 2014-15) and Martin Jones (Ontario, 2010-11)

St. Louis Blues (Tulsa Oilers) – Jordan Binnington (Kalamazoo, 2013-14)

Tampa Bay Lightning (Orlando Solar Bears) – Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde (Toledo, 2014-16); Yanni Gourde (San Francisco, 2012-13 and Kalamazoo, 2013-14); Gemel Smith (Idaho, 2015-16) and Carter Verhaeghe (Missouri, 2015-17)

Toronto Maple Leafs (Newfoundland Growlers) – Goaltending Coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02); Justin Holl (Indy, 2014-15); Michael Hutchinson (Reading, 2010-12 and Ontario, 2013-14) and Mason Marchment * (Orlando, 2016-17)

Vancouver Canucks (Kalamazoo Wings) – Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07); Jordie Benn (Victoria, 2008-09); Micheal Ferland (Utah, 2012-13) and Antoine Roussel * (Reading, 2010-11)

Vegas Golden Knights (Fort Wayne Komets) – Assistant Coach Ryan Craig (Pensacola, 2003-04); Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07) and Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08 and Orlando, 2012-13)

Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Head Coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-96 and Jacksonville, 1995-96); Assistant Coach Reid Cashman (Columbia, 2007-08; Wheeling, 2008-09 and Cincinnati, 2009-10); Professional Development Coach Olaf Kolzig (Hampton Roads, 1990-92); Pheonix Copley (South Carolina, 2013-14); Braden Holtby (South Carolina, 2009-10); Nick Jensen (Toledo, 2013-14) and Tyler Lewington (South Carolina, 2015-16)

Winnipeg Jets (Jacksonville Icemen) – Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 1997-98); Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90); Anthony Bitetto (Cincinnati, 2012-13); Laurent Brossoit (Alaska, 2013-14 and Bakersfield, 2013-14) and Mark Letestu (Wheeling, 2007-08)

About the ECHL

Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 26 teams in 19 states and two Canadian provinces for its 32nd season in 2019-20. There have been 662 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 20 who made their NHL debuts in the 2018-19 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 31 NHL teams in 2019-20, marking the 23rd consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.