70 former players, 48 coaches on NHL Opening-Day Rosters
The ECHL has 70 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 21st 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 each of the 32 teams and has affiliations with 27 of the 32 teams in the NHL, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. All 27 ECHL teams have an affiliate for the 2021-22 season, marking the first time since 2016-17 that all ECHL teams are affiliated.
There are 48 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar and Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, who all previously were ECHL head coaches. In addition, Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme and San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner are former ECHL players. It is the 11th consecutive season that there have been 30 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. In 2019-20, Cassidy became the second former ECHL head coach to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year, joining Bruce Boudreau, who received the honor in 2007-08. 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.
There are 41 former ECHL officials who are scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2021-22 with referees Reid Anderson, Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Mitch Dunning, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Michael Markovic, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Carter Sandlak, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Mitchell Hunt, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Jesse Marquis, Kilian McNamara, Bevin Mills, C.J. Murray, Kory Nagy, Ben O’Quinn and Bryan Pancich.
There have been 698 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 20 who made their debuts in 2020-21. The ECHL has had 506 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 442 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 16 seasons for an average of more than 27 per year.
There were three players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2020-21: Tanner Jeannot and Cole Smith with Florida and Nashville and Jack Ahcan with Jacksonville and Boston.
The ECHL was represented for the 21st year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2021 with Tampa Bay Lightning player Yanni; Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde; Director of Player Development JP Cote; Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Berger and Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dave Mishkin. There were 37 former players and 22 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2021, marking the 16th year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players who 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, Joe O’Donnell of the Minnesota Wild, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Everett Fitzhugh of the Seattle Kraken, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL players Paul Bissonnette and Tyson Nash are analysts with the Arizona Coyotes, former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets, former ECHL player Tripp Tracy is an analyst with the Carolina Hurricanes and former ECHL player Shane Hnidy is an analyst with the Golden Knights.
Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):
(*) – Injured Reserve/Non-Roster
Anaheim Ducks (Tulsa Oilers) – Assistant Coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00); Roman Durny * (Norfolk, 2019-20 and Tulsa, 2020-21) and Anthony Stolarz (Reading, 2017-18)
Arizona Coyotes (Rapid City Rush) – Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92); Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07); Carter Hutton (Toledo, 2011-12) and Antoine Roussel (Reading, 2010-11)
Boston Bruins (Maine Mariners) – Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 1996-98 and Trenton, 1999-00) and Assistant Coach Kevin Dean (Cincinnati, 1991-92 and Trenton, 2010-11)
Buffalo Sabres (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Head Coach Don Granato (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1997-99 and Peoria, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Jason Christie (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1998-99; Charlotte, 1993-94; Peoria, 1999-2005; Utah, 2005-08; Ontario, 2011-15; Tulsa, 2015-17 and Jacksonville, 2017-21); Assistant Coach Matt Ellis (Toledo, 2002-03) and Assistant Coach Marty Wilford (Columbus, 1998-99)
Calgary Flames (Kansas City Mavericks) –Assistant Coach Cail MacLean (Jacksonville, 1997-99; Trenton, 1999-02; Reading, 2004-05; South Carolina, 2005-11 and Adirondack, 2015-17); Goaltending Coach Jason LaBarbera (Charlotte, 2000-02) and Development Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer (Idaho, 2011-12 and Las Vegas, 2011-12); Trevor Lewis (Utah, 2012-13); Tyler Parsons * (Kansas City, 2017-18 and 2019-20) and Dan Vladar (Atlanta, 2016-18 and 2019-20)
Carolina Hurricanes – Steven Lorentz (Florida, 2017-19)
Chicago Blackhawks (Indy Fuel) – Kevin Lankinen (Indy, 2018-19)
Colorado Avalanche (Utah Grizzlies) – Head Coach Jared Bednar (Huntington, 1993-96 and South Carolina, 1996-09); Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 1995-96); Jonas Johansson (Cincinnati, 2017-19) and Darcy Kuemper (Ontario, 2011-12 and Orlando, 2012-13)
Columbus Blue Jackets (Kalamazoo Wings) – Associate Coach Pascal Vincent (Knoxville, 1992-93); Assistant Coach Steve McCarthy (Kalamazoo, 2015-16) and Goaltending Coach Manny Lagace (Richmond, 1996-97)
Dallas Stars (Idaho Steelheads) – Assistant Coach Derek Laxdal (Roanoke, 1994-95 and Idaho, 2005-10); Luke Glendening (Toledo, 2012-13); Jani Hakanpaa * (Quad City, 2014-15); Joel Hanley (Gwinnett, 2014-15); Braden Holtby (South Carolina, 2009-10) and Anton Khudobin (Texas, 2007-08 and Florida, 2008-09)
Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye) – Goaltending Coach Jeff Salajko (Columbus, 1996-99, Arkansas, 1999-02; Reading, 2001-02; Peoria, 2001-02 and Charlotte, 2001-03); Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07); Alex Nedeljkovic (Florida, 2014-15 and 2016-17) and Carter Rowney (Wheeling, 2013-15)
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); Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03) and Alex Stalock * (Stockton, 2011-12)
Florida Panthers (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) – Assistant Coach Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 1993-94); Goaltending Coach Rob Tallas (Charlotte, 1994-95); Ryan Lomberg (Adirondack, 2016-17); Mason Marchment (Orlando, 2016-17); Carter Verhaeghe (Missouri, 2015-17) and Mackenzie Weegar (Cincinnati, 2014-15)
Los Angeles Kings – Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)
Minnesota Wild (Iowa Heartlanders) – Assistant Coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05); Assistant Coach Brett McLean (Johnstown, 1999-00); Goaltending Coach Frederic Chabot (Winston-Salem, 1991-92); Jordie Benn (Victoria, 2008-09); Frederick Gaudreau (Cincinnati, 2014-15) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)
Montreal Canadiens (Trois-Rivières Lions) – Head Coach Dominique Ducharme (Huntington, 1995-96 and Raleigh, 1995-96); Assistant Coach Alexandre Burrows ((Greenville, 2002-03; Baton Rouge, 2002-03 and Columbia, 2003-05); Goaltending Coach Eric Raymond (Wheeling, 1993-94; South Carolina, 1995-96 and Huntington, 1995-96); Alex Belzile (Gwinnett, 2012-14; Alaska, 2013-14; Idaho, 2014-15; Fort Wayne, 2015-16 and Colorado, 2016-17); Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12); Mike Hoffman * (Elmira, 2010-11); Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15) and Chris Wideman (Elmira, 2012-13)
Nashville Predators (Florida Everblades) – Ben Harpur (Evansville, 2015-16) and Tanner Jeannot (Florida, 2019-21)
New Jersey Devils (Adirondack Thunder) –Mackenzie Blackwood (Adirondack, 2017-18); Mason Geertsen (Fort Wayne, 2015-16 and Colorado, 2016-17); Scott Wedgewood (Trenton, 2012-13 and Adirondack, 2015-16) and Colton White (Adirondack, 2017-18)
New York Islanders (Worcester Railers) – Ross Johnston (Missouri, 2015-16) and Jakub Skarek (Worcester, 2019-20)
New York Rangers (Jacksonville Icemen) – Dryden Hunt (Manchester, 2016-17) and Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08 and Orlando, 2012-13)
Ottawa Senators (Atlanta Gladiators) – Associate Coach Jack Capuano (Tallahassee, 1995-97, Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-05); Assistant Coach Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-00; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07); Goaltending Coach Zac Bierk (Augusta; 2001-02); Clark Bishop * (Florida, 2016-17); Josh Brown (Manchester, 2015-16); Scott Sabourin (Manchester, 2015-16) and Logan Shaw (Cincinnati, 2013-14)
Philadelphia Flyers (Reading Royals) – Assistant Coach Darryl Williams (Newfoundland, 2019-21); Martin Jones (Ontario, 2010-11) and Nate Thompson (Alaska, 2012-13)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Assistant Coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-96 and Jacksonville, 1995-96); Assistant Coach Mike Vellucci (Erie, 1989-90 and Winston-Salem, 1989-90); Goaltending Coach Andy Chiodo (Wheeling, 2003-06; Elmira, 2009-10 and Bakersfield, 2013-14) and Casey Desmith (Wheeling, 2015-16)
San Jose Sharks – Head Coach Bob Boughner (Toledo, 1991-92); Adin Hill (Rapid City, 2016-17) Jacob Middleton (Manchester, 2015-16) and James Reimer (Reading, 2008-09 and South Carolina, 2008-09)
Seattle Kraken (Allen Americans) – Assistant Coach Jay Leach (Mississippi, 2001-02; Augusta, 2002-03; Long Beach, 2003-04 and Trenton, 2003-05); Goaltending Coach Andrew Allen (Dayton, 2000-01 and 2002-03; Macon, 2001-02; Jackson, 2001-02; Trenton, 2002-05); Chris Driedger (Elmira, 2013-14 and Evansville, 2014-15); Yanni Gourde * (San Francisco, 2012-13 and Kalamazoo, 2013-14) and Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13)
St. Louis Blues – Jordan Binnington (Kalamazoo, 2013-14); Kyle Clifford (Ontario, 2012-13) and Ville Husso (Missouri, 2016-17)
Tampa Bay Lightning (Orlando Solar Bears) – Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde (Toledo, 2014-16) and Gemel Smith * (Idaho, 2015-16)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Newfoundland Growlers) – Assistant Coach Spencer Carbery (Bakersfield, 2007-08; Stockton, 2007-08; Fresno, 2007-08; South Carolina, 2008-16); Goaltending Coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02); Michael Bunting (Rapid City, 2015-16); Jack Campbell (Idaho, 2014-16); Justin Holl (Indy, 2014-15); Timothy Liljegren (Newfoundland, 2018-19); Petr Mrazek (Toledo, 2012-13)
Vancouver Canucks (Kalamazoo Wings) – Kyle Burroughs (Missouri, 2015-16); Justin Dowling (Utah, 2011-12 and Idaho, 2012-13); Micheal Ferland * Utah (2012-13) and Jarsolav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06)
Vegas Golden Knights (Fort Wayne Komets) – Assistant Coach Ryan Craig (Pensacola, 2003-04); Assistant Coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Mike Rosati (Erie, 1989-90); Laurent Brossoit (Alaska, 2013-14 and Bakersfield, 2013-14); Connor Corcoran * (Fort Wayne, 2020-21) and Keegan Kolesar (Quad City, 2017-18)
Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98); Nick Jensen (Toledo, 2013-14); Tyler Lewington (South Carolina, 2015-16) and Vitek Vanecek (South Carolina, 2015-16 and 2017-18)
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) and Jansen Harkins (Jacksonville, 2017-18)
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 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 34th season in 2021-22. There have been 698 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 2020-21 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 27 of the 32 NHL teams in 2021-22, marking the 25th consecutive season that the league has 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.