Five former ECHL players have debuted in the National Hockey League over the last six weeks, increasing the number of players to advance to the NHL to 525.
Former Colorado Eagles defenseman Ben Chiarot debuted with the Winnipeg Jets in a 5-1 loss against Chicago on Nov. 2.
Selected in the fourth round (120th overall) by the Atlanta Thrashers n the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Chairot recorded 13 points (6g-7a) in 24 games with the Eagles during the 2011-12 season. The 22-year-old has appeared in 101 career American Hockey League games with Chicago and St. John’s, tallying 22 points (4g-18a).
Former Wheeling Nailers center Zach Sill made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-1 loss at New Jersey on Nov. 16. Sill has five penalty minutes in five games with the Penguins this season.
Sill had three points (1g-2a) and 15 penalty minutes in six games with the Nailers in 2009-10. He has scored 72 points (32g-40a) in 273 career games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League while adding 11 points (6g-5a) in 43 career postseason games with the Penguins.
Former Wheeling Nailers defenseman Alex Grant made his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-3 shootout loss at San Jose on Nov. 30. Grant tallied a goal and had two penalty minutes in 10:10 of ice time for the Ducks.
A fourth-round selection (118th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Grant appeared in 54 games with the Nailers in 2009-10 and 2010-11, recording 32 points (10g-22a). He added two goals in 17 games during the 2011 Kelly Cup Playoffs as the Nailers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. Grant has tallied 74 points (23g-51a) in 144 career American Hockey League games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Norfolk.
Former Ontario Reign goaltender Martin Jones made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-2 shootout win against Anaheim on Dec. 3. Jones, who has posted shutouts in his last two starts, is 3-0-0 for the Kings this season, and is the first Los Angeles goaltender to win his first three starts since fellow ECHL alum Jason LaBarbera in 2005-06.
Jones made his first professional appearance with the Reign on Oct. 16, 2010, making 26 saves in Ontario’s 5-4 overtime win at Stockton. Prior to his recall to Los Angeles, he had appeared in 149 career American Hockey League games with Manchester posting an overall record of 77-56-9 with 11 shutouts, a 2.45 goals-against average and a save percentage of .921.
Former Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wey played in his first NHL game with the Washington Capitals in a 5-2 win against Nashville on Dec. 7.
A fourth-round selection (115th overall) by the Capitals in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Wey began this season with Reading, making his pro debut on Oct. 19. He tallied three assists in eight games with the Royals before being reassigned to Hershey of the American Hockey League, where he had three points (1g-2a) in seven games.
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 525 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13. The ECHL has had 333 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 269 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 29 per year.
There are 30 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, Florida Panthers interim head coach Peter Horachek and Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel. 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.
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 27 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.