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ECHL has 56 former players on NHL Opening Day rosters

Thursday, January 14th
ECHL has 56 former players on NHL Opening Day rosters

The ECHL has 56 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 20th season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. In addition, there are 35 former ECHL players who have been named to NHL Taxi Squads.

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has a player or coach on 30 of the 31 teams and has affiliations with 25 of the 31 teams in the NHL, marking the 24th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.

There are 41 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar and Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette. It is the 10th consecutive season that there have been 30 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Last season, Cassidy became the second former ECHL head coach to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year, joining Bruce Boudreau, who received the honor in 2007-08. Laviolette, who coached the Wheeling Nailers during the 1997-98 season, became the first former ECHL coach to serve as head coach of a Stanley Cup champion with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

There are 37 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2020-21 with referees Reid Anderson, Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Mitch Dunning, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Michael Markovic, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh. and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Jesse Marquis, Bevin Mills, Kory Nagy and Bryan Pancich.

There have been 678 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 16 who made their debuts in 2019-20. The ECHL has had 486 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 422 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 15 seasons for an average of more than 28 per year.

There was one player who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2019-20: Dan Vlader with Atlanta and Boston.

The ECHL was represented for the 20th year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2020 with Tampa Bay Lightning players Yanni Gourde and Carter Verhaeghe; Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde; Director of Player Development JP Cote; Assistant Equipment Manager Jason Berger and Radio Play-by-Play Announcer Dave Mishkin. There were 70 former players and 25 coaches on the 24 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020, marking the 15th year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players who have competed in the NHL postseason.

The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender 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. The 600th former ECHL player to reach the NHL was Florida Panthers forward Shane Harper on Oct. 13, 2016.

Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Josh Bogorad of the Dallas Stars, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Plagens of the Florida Panthers, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL players Paul Bissonnette and Tyson Nash are analysts with the Arizona Coyotes, former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets and former ECHL players Shane Hnidy and Mike McKenna are analysts with the Golden Knights.

Former ECHL coaches and players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters (ECHL affiliate listed in parentheses):

 (*) – Injured Reserve

Anaheim Ducks (Tulsa Oilers) – Assistant Coach Mark Morrison (Victoria, 2006-11); Assistant Coach Marty Wilford (Columbus, 1997-98) and Carter Rowney (Wheeling, 2013-15)

Taxi Squad – Kodie Curran (Greenville, 2015-16) and Anthony Stolarz (Reading, 2017-18)

Arizona Coyotes (Rapid City Rush) – Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92); Goaltending Development Coach Zac Bierk (Augusta, 2001-02); Adin Hill (Rapid City, 2016-17) and Darcy Kuemper (Ontario, 2011-12 and Orlando, 2012-13)

Taxi Squad – Dryden Hunt (Manchester, 2016-17)

Boston Bruins (Atlanta Gladiators) – Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 1996-98 and Trenton, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Kevin Dean (Cincinnati, 1991-92 and Trenton, 2010-11) and Jarsolav Halak (Long Beach, 2005-06)

Buffalo Sabres (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Assistant Coach Don Granato (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1997-99 and Peoria, 1999-00) and Carter Hutton (Toledo, 2011-12)

Taxi Squad – Brandon Davidson (Stockton, 2012-13) and Jonas Johansson (Cincinnati, 2017-19)

Calgary Flames (Kansas City Mavericks) – Head Coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Ray Edwards (Dayton, 1991-94; Birmingham, 1992-93; Huntington, 1994-00; Cincinnati, 2001-02); Goaltending Coach Jason LaBarbera (Charlotte, 2000-02) and Development Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer (Idaho, 2011-12 and Las Vegas, 2011-12)

Taxi Squad – Louis Domingue (Gwinnett, 2012-15) and Buddy Robinson (Elmira, 2013-14)

Carolina Hurricanes – Petr Mrazek (Toledo, 2012-13) and James Reimer (Reading and South Carolina, 2008-09)

Taxi Squad – Steven Lorentz (Florida, 2017-19) and Alex Nedeljkovic (Florida, 2014-15 and 2-16-17)

Chicago Blackhawks (Indy Fuel) – Collin Delia (Indy, 2017-18)

Taxi Squad – Kevin Lankinen (Indy, 2018-19)

Colorado Avalanche (Utah Grizzlies) – Head Coach Jared Bednar (Huntington, 1993-96 and South Carolina, 1996-09); Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 1995-96) and Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13)

Taxi Squad – Hunter Miska (Utah, 2019-20)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Goaltending Coach Manny Lagace (Richmond, 1996-97)

Taxi Squad – Matiss Kivlenieks (Kalamazoo, 2018-19)

Dallas Stars (Idaho Steelheads) – Assistant Coach Derek Laxdal (Roanoke, 1994-95 and Idaho, 2005-10); Justin Dowling (Utah, 2011-12 and Idaho, 2012-13); Joel Hanley (Gwinnett, 2014-15) and Anton Khudobin (Texas, 2007-08 and Florida, 2008-09)

Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye) – Assistant Coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94); Goaltending Coach Jeff Salajko (Columbus, 1996-99, Arkansas, 1999-02; Reading, 2001-02; Peoria, 2001-02 and Charlotte, 2001-03); Luke Glendening (Toledo, 2012-13); Thomas Greiss (Fresno, 2006-07)

Taxi Squad – Kevin Boyle (Utah, 2016-17)

Edmonton Oilers (Wichita Thunder) – Associate Coach Jim Playfair (Dayton, 1993-96); Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-09); Josh Archibald (Wheeling, 2014-15); Mikko Koskinen (Utah, 2009-10) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)

Taxi Squad – Alan Quine (Stockton, 2013-14) and Stuart Skinner (Wichita, 2018-20)

Florida Panthers (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) – Assistant Coach Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 1993-94); Goaltending Coach Rob Tallas (Charlotte, 1994-95); Chris Driedger (Elmira, 2013-14 and Evansville, 2014-15); Ryan Lomberg (Adirondack, 2016-17); Carter Verhaeghe (Missouri, 2015-17) and Mackenzie Weegar (Cincinnati, 2014-15)

Taxi Squad - Philippe Desrosiers (Idaho, 2015-19 and Norfolk, 2016-17) and Mason Marchment (Orlando, 2016-17)

Los Angeles Kings – Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)

Taxi Squad – Austin Strand (Manchester, 2018-19) and Matt Villalta (Fort Wayne, 2019-20)

Minnesota Wild (Allen Americans) – Assistant Coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05); Assistant Coach Brett McLean (Johnstown, 1999-00); Goaltending Coach Frederic Chabot (Winston-Salem, 1991-92); Alex Stalock * (Stockton, 2011-12) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)

Taxi Squad – Dakota Mermis (Rapid City, 2015-16)

Montreal Canadiens – Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12) and Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15)

Nashville Predators (Florida Everblades) Taxi Squad – Connor Ingram (Adirondack, 2017-18 and Orlando, 2018-19) and Cole Smith (Florida, 2020-21)

New Jersey Devils (Adirondack Thunder) – Assistant Coach Rick Kowalsky (Hampton Roads, 1994-00; Trenton, 2000-01; 2004-05 and 2006-10; and Roanoke, 2001-04); Mackenzie Blackwood (Adirondack, 2017-18) and Scott Wedgewood (Trenton, 2012-13 and Adirondack, 2015-16)

New York Islanders (Worcester Railers) – Ross Johnston (Missouri, 2015-16)

Taxi Squad – Jakub Skarek (Worcester, 2019-20)

New York Rangers (Maine Mariners) – Video Coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92)

Taxi Squad – Anthony Bitetto (Cincinnati, 2012-13)

Ottawa Senators (Brampton Beast) – Associate Coach Jack Capuano (Knoxville, 1996-97 and Pee Dee, 1997-05); Assistant Coach Davis Payne (Greensboro, 1992-95; Greenville, 1998-00; Pee Dee, 2000-03 and Alaska, 2003-07); Josh Brown (Manchester, 2015-16) and Marcus Hogberg (Brampton, 2017-19)

Taxi Squad – Joey Daccord (Brampton, 2019-20) and Micheal Haley (South Carolina, 2006-07 and Utah, 2007-08)

Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Assistant Coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-96 and Jacksonville, 1995-96); Assistant Coach Mike Vellucci (Erie, 1989-90 and Winston-Salem, 1989-90); Goaltending Coach Mike Buckley (Mississippi, 2002-04 and Gwinnett, 2003-04) and Casey Desmith (Wheeling, 2015-16)

Taxi Squad - Frederick Gaudreau (Cincinnati, 2014-15); Maxime Lagace (Missouri, 2014-15; Bakersfield, 2014-15 and Idaho, 2015-16) and Alex D’Orio (Wheeling, 2019-20)

San Jose Sharks – Head Coach Bob Boughner (Toledo, 1991-92); Devan Dubnyk (Stockton, 2006-07); Martin Jones (Ontario, 2010-11); Nicloas Meloche (Colorado, 2017-18) and Jacob Middleton (Manchester, 2015-16)

St. Louis Blues – Jordan Binnington (Kalamazoo, 2013-14); Mike Hoffman (Elmira, 2010-11) and Ville Husso (Missouri, 2016-17)

Taxi Squad – Austin Poganski (Tulsa, 2018-19)

Tampa Bay Lightning (Orlando Solar Bears) – Assistant Coach Derek Lalonde (Toledo, 2014-16); Yanni Gourde (San Francisco, 2012-13 and Kalamazoo, 2013-14);

Taxi Squad – Christopher Gibson (Orlando, 2013-14) and Gemel Smith (Idaho, 2015-16)

Toronto Maple Leafs (Newfoundland Growlers) – Goaltending Coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02); Jack Campbell (Idaho, 2014-16); Aaron Dell (Utah, 2013-14 and Allen, 2014-15) and Justin Holl (Indy, 2014-15);

Vancouver Canucks (Kalamazoo Wings) – Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07); Jordie Benn (Victoria, 2008-09); Braden Holtby (South Carolina, 2009-10) and Antoine Roussel (Reading, 2010-11)

Vegas Golden Knights (Fort Wayne Komets) – Assistant Coach Ryan Craig (Pensacola, 2003-04); Assistant Coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Mike Rosati (Erie, 1989-90); Keegan Kolesar (Quad City, 2017-18) and Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08 and Orlando, 2012-13)

Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98); Nick Jensen (Toledo, 2013-14); Tyler Lewington (South Carolina, 2015-16) and Vitek Vanecek (South Carolina, 2015-16 and 2017-18)

Taxi Squad – Pheonix Copley (South Carolina, 2013-14) and Zach Fucale (Brampton, 2016-18; Fort Wayne, 2018-19; Orlando, 2019-20 and South Carolina, 2020-21)

Winnipeg Jets (Jacksonville Icemen) – Assistant Coach Charlie Huddy (Huntington, 1997-98); Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90); Laurent Brossoit (Alaska, 2013-14 and Bakersfield, 2013-14); Jansen Harkins (Jacksonville, 2017-18) and Nate Thompson (Alaska, 2012-13)

Taxi Squad – Mikhail Berdin (Jacksonville, 2018-19)

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