PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Mississippi left wing Michael Ryder became the 217th former ECHL player to advance to the National Hockey League when he made his debut with Montreal on Thursday. Ryder played 19 shifts and had four shots in the Canadiens’ 5-2 loss at Ottawa.
Selected in the eighth round (216th overall) by Monteal in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Ryder scored 14 goals and 27 points in 20 games with Mississippi in 2001-02. The 6-1 and 195-pound Ryder was chosen to represent Mississippi in the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game, but was unable to participate after being called up to Quebec of the American Hockey League where he scored 11 goals and 28 points in 50 regular season games and had an assist in three postseason games. In 2002-03, he scored 67 points (34g-33a) in 69 regular season games and 17 points (11g-6a) in 23 postseason games with Hamilton of the AHL.
Ryder becomes the second ECHL player to make his NHL debut in 2003-04, joining Garrett Burnett, who played for Anaheim in its 3-1 loss at Dallas on Wednesday.
There were 53 former ECHL players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the record of 50 players set in 2002-03, and there were ECHL players on 28 of the 30 NHL teams.
There were 90 ECHL players that played in the NHL in 2002-03, including 20 that made their first-ever appearance. The 20 players who made their NHL debut in 2002-03 were: Francois Beauchemin (Montreal), Zdenek Blatny (Atlanta), Joe Corvo (Los Angeles), Fedor Fedorov (Vancouver), Vern Fiddler (Nashville), Brian Finley (Nashville), Simon Gamache (Atlanta), Ryan Kraft (San Jose), Kent McDonell (Columbus), Brett McLean (Chicago), Rick Mrozik (Calgary), Cody Rudkowsky (St. Louis), Curtis Sanford (St. Louis), Cam Severson (Anaheim), Mike Siklenka (Philadelphia), Chris Schmidt (Los Angeles), Jerred Smithson (Los Angeles), Tim Thomas (Boston), John Tripp (New York Rangers) and Matt Walker (St. Louis). Finley, Johan Holmqvist and Rudkowsky each played in both the ECHL and the NHL in 2002-03.