Entering in relief of Dan Blackburn at the beginning of the second period, Johan Holmqvist became the 201st former East Coast Hockey League player to play in the National Hockey League on Wednesday. Holmqvist had 16 saves and allowed two goals in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Assigned to Charlotte by Hartford of the American Hockey League, Holmqvist made 43 saves in the Checkers 5-2 win at Augusta on November 8 before being recalled to the Rangers on November 10. Selected by the Rangers in the seventh round (175th overall) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, In eight games with Hartford, Holmqvist is 4-2-2 with a shutout and a 2.08 goals against average. He was 0-2-0 with a 5.04 goals against average in two games with the Rangers in 2000-01.
There have been 52 former ECHL players that have played in the NHL in 2002-03 and 23 of the 30 teams in the NHL have affiliations with teams in the ECHL. In 2001-02, there were 83 former ECHL players that played in the NHL, including 18 that played in their first NHL game with five of those playing in both the ECHL and NHL during the season.