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ECHL has 72 former players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters

Tuesday, October 10th
ECHL has 72 former players on NHL Opening-Day Rosters

The ECHL has 72 players on National Hockey League opening-day rosters, marking the 22nd season in a row with more than 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. 

The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League, the ECHL has a player or coach each of the 32 teams and has affiliations with 28 of the 32 teams in the NHL, marking the 27th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. 

There are 55 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde, New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette, Vegas Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy and Washington Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery, who all previously were ECHL head coaches. In addition, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent, Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft and Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette are former ECHL players. It is the 13th consecutive season that there have been 30 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Last season, Cassidy became the third former ECHL head coach to lead his team to a Stanley Cup title, joining Laviolette (Carolina, 2006) and Bednar (Colorado, 2022). In 2021-22, Bednar became the first coach to lead teams to championships in the ECHL (South Carolina, 2009), AHL (Lake Erie, 2016) and NHL (Colorado, 2022). In 2019-20, 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. 

There are 40 former ECHL officials who are scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2023-24 with referees Riley Brace, Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Mitch Dunning, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Morgan MacPhee, Michael Markovic, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Carter Sandlak, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Brandon Grillo, Mitchell Hunt, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Jesse Marquis, Kilian McNamara, Bevin Mills, C.J. Murray, Kory Nagy, Ben O’Quinn and Bryan Pancich.

There have been 740 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including 13 who made their debuts in 2021-22. The ECHL has had 548 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 484 ECHL players have played their first game in the last 18 seasons for an average of more than 26 per year.

There were two players who played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2023-23: Kevin Mandolese (Allen and Ottawa) and Dylan Wells (Idaho and Chicago).

The ECHL was represented for the 23rd year in a row on the Stanley Cup champion in 2023 with a record 16 individuals on the Vegas Golden Knights, including Head Coach Bruce Cassidy; Assistant Coach Ryan Craig; players Laurent Brossoit, Adin Hill, Keegan Kolesar, Brayden Pachal, Jonathan Quick and Logan Thompson. There were 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2023, marking the 18th 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 while the 700th former ECHL player to debut in the NHL was New Jersey Devils defenseman Mason Geertsen on Oct. 19, 2021.

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, Joe O’Donnell of the Minnesota Wild, Brendan Burke of the New York Islanders, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Everett Fitzhugh of the Seattle Kraken, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dave Goucher and Dan D’Uva of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former ECHL player Tyson Nash is an analyst with the Arizona Coyotes, former ECHL player Jody Shelley is an analyst with the Blue Jackets, former ECHL player Tripp Tracy is an analyst with the Carolina Hurricanes and former ECHL player Shane Hnidy is an analyst with the Golden Knights.

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

(*) – Injured Reserve/Non-Roster

Anaheim Ducks (Tulsa Oilers) – Assistant Coach Brent Thompson (Alaska, 2009-11); Video Coach Austin Violette (Maine, 2018-19); Sam Carrick (Idaho, 2012-13),

Arizona Coyotes – Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92); Josh Brown (Manchester, 2015-16) and Connor Ingram (Adirondack, 2017-18 and Orlando, 2018-19)

Boston Bruins (Maine Mariners) – Goaltending Development Coach Mike Dunham (Gwinnett, 2005-06)

Buffalo Sabres (Jacksonville Icemen) – Head Coach Don Granato (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1997-99 and Peoria, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Jason Christie (Columbus, 1991-93 and 1998-99; Charlotte, 1993-94; Peoria, 1999-2005; Utah, 2005-08; Ontario, 2011-15; Tulsa, 2015-17 and Jacksonville, 2017-21); Assistant Coach Matt Ellis (Toledo, 2002-03); Assistant Coach Marty Wilford (Columbus, 1998-99) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Cincinnati, 2019-20)

Calgary Flames (Rapid City Rush) – Assistant Coach Cail MacLean (Jacksonville, 1997-99; Trenton, 1999-02; Reading, 2004-05; South Carolina, 2005-11 and Adirondack, 2015-17); Goaltending Coach Jason LaBarbera (Charlotte, 2000-02); Dryden Hunt (Manchester, 2016-17); Dan Vladar (Atlanta, 2016-18 and 2019-20) and MacKenzie Weegar (Cincinnati, 2014-15)

Carolina Hurricanes – Michael Bunting (Rapid City, 2015-16)

Chicago Blackhawks (Indy Fuel) – Assistant Coach Kevin Dean (Cincinnati, 1991-92 and Trenton, 2010-11); Developmental Goaltending Coach Peter Aubry (Johnstown, 2002-03; Alaska, 2004-05 and Texas, 2007-08) and Petr Mrazek (Toledo, 2012-13)

Colorado Avalanche (Utah Grizzlies) – Head Coach Jared Bednar (Huntington, 1993-96 and South Carolina, 1996-09); Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt (Richmond, 1995-96) and Ivan Prosvetov (Rapid City, 2019-20)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Head Coach Pascal Vincent (Knoxville, 1992-93); Assistant Coach Steve McCarthy (Kalamazoo, 2015-16); Goaltending Development Coach Brad Thiessen (Wheeling, 2009-10 and Cincinnati, 2015-17); Justin Danforth (Reading, 2016-17 and Cincinnati, 2017-18) and Spencer Martin (Fort Wayne, 2015-16 and Orlando, 2019-20)

Dallas Stars (Idaho Steelheads) – Assistant Coach Steve Spott (Richmond, 1990-91); Jani Hakanpaa (Quad City, 2014-15); Joel Hanley (Gwinnett, 2014-15); Mason Marchment (Orlando, 2016-17) and Scott Wedgewood (Trenton, 2012-13 and Adirondack, 2015-16)

Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye) – Head Coach Derek Lalonde (Toledo, 2014-16); Associate Coach Bob Boughner (Toledo, 1991-92); Goaltending Coach Alex Westlund (Dayton, 1999-2001; Cincinnati, 2001-02; Toledo, 2001-02; Trenton, 2003-04; Charlotte, 2004-05 and 2006-07 and Wheeling, 2013-14); Ben Chiarot (Colorado, 2011-12); Justin Holl (Indy, 2014-15); Ville Husso (Missouri, 2016-17) and James Reimer (Reading, 2008-09 and South Carolina, 2008-09)

Edmonton Oilers (Fort Wayne Komets) – Head Coach Jay Woodcroft (Jackson, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan (Las Vegas, 2003-09); Jack Campbell (Idaho, 2014-16); Vincent Desharnais (Wichita, 2019-21); Ryan Fanti * (Fort Wayne, 2022-23); Brett Kulak (Colorado, 2014-15) and Stuart Skinner (Wichita, 2018-20) 

Florida Panthers (Florida Everblades) – Assistant Coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91); Goaltending Coach Rob Tallas (Charlotte, 1994-95); Ryan Lomberg (Adirondack, 2016-17); Steven Lorentz (Florida, 2017-19); Anthony Stolarz (Reading, 2017-18) and Carter Verhaeghe (Missouri, 2015-17) 

Los Angeles Kings (Greenville Swamp Rabbits) – Assistant Coach Derik Johnson (Missouri, 2014-15 and Reading, 2015-17); Goaltending Coach Mike Buckley (Mississippi, 2002-04 and Gwinnett, 2003-04); Pheonix Copley (South Carolina, 2013-14); Trevor Lewis (Utah, 2012-13) and Cam Talbot (Greenville, 2010-11)

Minnesota Wild (Iowa Heartlanders) – Assistant Coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05); Goaltending Coach Frederic Chabot (Winston-Salem, 1991-92); Frederick Gaudreau (Cincinnati, 2014-15); Filip Gustavsson (Brampton, 2018-19) and Jacob Middleton (Manchester, 2015-16)

Montreal Canadiens (Trois-Rivières Lions) – Assistant Coach Alexandre Burrows (Greenville, 2002-03; Baton Rouge, 2002-03 and Columbia, 2003-05)Goaltending Coach Eric Raymond (Wheeling, 1993-94; South Carolina, 1995-96 and Huntington, 1995-96); and Chris Wideman * (Elmira, 2012-13)

Nashville Predators (Atlanta Gladiators) – Head Coach Andrew Brunette (Hampton Roads, 1993-94); Kevin Lankinen (Indy, 2018-19); Thomas Novak (Florida, 2020-21) and Cole Smith (Florida, 2020-21)

New Jersey Devils (Adirondack Thunder) – Video Coach Ian Greenwald (Utah, 2013-15) and Vitek Vanecek (South Carolina, 2015-16 and 2017-18)

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

New York Rangers (Cincinnati Cyclones) – Head Coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98) and Jonthan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)

Ottawa Senators (Allen Americans) – Associate Coach Jack Capuano (Tallahassee, 1995-97, 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) and Goaltending Coach Zac Bierk (Augusta; 2001-02)

Philadelphia Flyers (Reading Royals) – Assistant Coach Darryl Williams (Newfoundland, 2019-21) and Felix Sandstrom (Reading, 2019-20)

Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers) – Associate 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); Assistant Coach Ty Hennes (Toledo, 2004-05; Bakersfield, 2004-05 and Texas, 2004-05); Goaltending Coach Andy Chiodo (Wheeling, 2003-06; Elmira, 2009-10 and Bakersfield, 2013-14); Jansen Harkins (Jacksonville, 2017-18) and Alex Nedeljkovic (Florida, 2014-15 and 2016-17)

San Jose Sharks (Wichita Thunder) – Assistant Coach Scott Gordon (Johnstown, 1988-89; Nashville, 1992-93; Knoxville, 1993-94; Roanoke, 1998-2000); Assistant Coach Ryan Warsofsky (South Carolina, 2013-18); Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer (Idaho, 2011-12 and Las Vegas, 2011-12); Mackenzie Blackwood (Adirondack, 2017-18); Kyle Burroughs (Missouri, 2015-16); Mike Hoffman (Elmira, 2010-11) and Jacob MacDonald * (Elmira, 2014-16 and Toledo, 2016-17)

Seattle Kraken (Kansas City Mavericks) – Assistant Coach Jay Leach (Mississippi, 2001-02; Augusta, 2002-03; Long Beach, 2003-04 and Trenton, 2003-05); Goaltending Coach Steve Briere (Mississippi, 2000-01; Cincinnati, 2001-02 and Toledo, 2001-02); Joey Daccord (Brampton, 2019-020); Yanni Gourde (San Francisco, 2012-13 and Kalamazoo, 2013-14) and Philipp Grubauer (South Carolina, 2011-12 and Reading, 2012-13) 

St. Louis Blues – Jordan Binnington (Kalamazoo, 2013-14) and Josh Jacobs * (Adirondack, 2016-17)

Tampa Bay Lightning (Orlando Solar Bears) – Luke Glendening (Toledo, 2012-13); Tanner Jeannot (Florida, 2019-21); Jonas Johansson (Cincinnati, 2017-19); Matt Tomkins (Indy, 2017-19)

Toronto Maple Leafs (Newfoundland Growlers) – Goaltending Coach Curtis Sanford (Peoria, 2000-02); Timothy Liljegren (Newfoundland, 2018-19); Bobby McMann (Wichita, 2020-21 and Newfoundland, 2021-22) and Ryan Reaves (Alaska, 2007-08 and Orlando, 2012-13)

Vancouver Canucks (Kalamazoo Wings) – Casey DeSmith (Wheeling, 2015-16) and Dakota Joshua (Tulsa, 2019-20)

Vegas Golden Knights (Savannah Ghost Pirates) – Head Coach Bruce Cassidy (Jacksonville, 1996-98 and Trenton, 1999-00); Assistant Coach Dominique Ducharme (Huntington, 1995-96 and Raleigh, 1995-96); Adin Hill (Rapid City, 2016-17); Keegan Kolesar (Quad City, 2017-18); Daniil Miromanov * (Manchester, 2018-19); Brayden Pachal (Fort Wayne, 2019-20); Isaiah Saville * (Savannah, 2022-23) and Logan Thompson (Adirondack, 2018-19 and South Carolina, 2019-20)

Washington Capitals (South Carolina Stingrays) – Assistant Coach Spencer Carbery (Bakersfield, 2007-08; Stockton, 2007-08; Fresno, 2007-08; South Carolina, 2008-16); Assistant coach Scott Allen (Carolina, 1988-89; Winston-Salem, 1989-90; Erie, 1989-90; Greensboro, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Johnstown, 1996-2002); Assistant Coach Mitch Love (Johnstown, 2007-08); Nick Jensen (Toledo, 2013-14) and Darcy Kuemper (Ontario, 2011-12 and Orlando, 2012-13) 

Winnipeg Jets (Norfolk Admirals) – Assistant Coach Marty Johnston (Florida, 2002-03; Trenton, 2003-04; Long Beach, 2003-04 and Peoria, 2003-04); Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90) and Laurent Brossoit (Alaska, 2013-14 and Bakersfield, 2013-14)

About the ECHL

Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and two Canadian provinces for its 36th season in 2023-24. There have been 740 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 13 who made their NHL debuts in the 2022-23 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 28 of the 32 NHL teams in 2023-24, marking the 27th consecutive season that the league has affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

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