Three debuts give ECHL 515 players to reach NHL

Three former ECHL players have debuted in the National Hockey League during the first week of the 2013-14 season, increasing the number of players to advance to the NHL to 515.

Former Idaho Steelheads left wing Luke Gazdic and former Reading Royals forward Will Acton debuted with the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 1 in a 5-4 loss against Winnipeg.

Gazdic scored the first goal of the game for the Oilers 2:21 into the first period, with Acton receiving an assist. Gazdic added five penalty minutes in 4:59 of ice time while Acton was a +1 and had one shot on goal in 8:28 of ice time.

Gazdic made his pro debut with Idaho in 2008-09, scoring one goal in two regular-season games while also seeing action in two games during the Kelly Cup Playoffs. He tallied two points (1g-1a) and had 10 penalty minutes in four games with the Steelheads in 2009-10. A sixth-round selection (172nd overall) of the Dallas Stars in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Gazdic had 55 points (27g-28a) and 447 penalty minutes in 256 games with Texas of the American Hockey League from 2009-13. In two games with the Oilers this season, he has one goal and 10 penalty minutes.

Acton appeared in his first professional game with Reading on March 23, 2011, posting one shot on goal in 3-2 loss at Gwinnett. He went on to appear in five games with Toronto of the American Hockey League before spending the next two seasons with the Marlies where he had 35 points (15g-20a) in 136 games. Acton has one assist and seven penalty minutes in two games with Edmonton this season.

Former San Francisco Bulls left wing Jamie Devane made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-4 shootout win against Ottawa on Oct. 5.

Devane recorded one shot on goal and one hit in 6:52 of ice time for the Maple Leafs.

A third-round selection (68th overall) by the Maple Leafs in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Devane appeared in 12 games with San Francisco last season, recording one goal and 45 penalty minutes. He also appeared in 22 games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, posting five points (2g-3a) and 41 penalty minutes.

Gazdic, Acton and Devane are the first three former ECHL players to make their NHL debuts in 2013-14.

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 515 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 22 in 2012-13. The ECHL has had 323 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 259 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last nine seasons for an average of more than 28 per year.

There are 29 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and 2011 Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano 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, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, 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, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.