PRINCETON, N.J. – Former Peoria defenseman Mike Stuart made his National Hockey League debut on October 24 with St. Louis making it 223 former ECHL players that have advanced to the NHL. Stuart played 16 shifts in the Blues 2-1 win at Calgary and was with St. Louis until being reassigned to Worcester of the American Hockey League on November 1.
Selected in the fifth round (137th overall) by Nashville in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and signed as a free agent by St. Louis in 2002, Stuart began his professional career in 2002-03 and scored nine points (2g-7a) in 19 regular season games with Peoria. He scored six points (1g-5a) in 41 regular season games and also played in three postseason games for Worcester in 2002-03.
The 23-year-old Chicago native is the eighth ECHL player to make his NHL debut in 2003-04 joining Darryl Bootland, who played for Detroit on November 8; Travis Brigley, who played for Colorado on October 26; Garrett Burnett, who played for Anaheim on October 8; Andrew Hutchinson, who played for Nashville on October 18; Boyd Kane, who played for Philadelphia on October 16; and Michael Ryder, who played for Montreal on October 9; and Dany Sabourin, who played for Calgary on October 29.
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).