Five ECHL Players Who Made The Jump To The NHL

Five ECHL Players Who Made The Jump To The NHL

The ECHL has sent over 700 players to the NHL, including 70 players that were on Opening Day rosters in 2021-22.

Nov 11, 2021 by Mike Ashmore
Five ECHL Players Who Made The Jump To The NHL

For nearly as long as the ECHL has been in existence—even dating back to the days where people were calling it the East Coast Hockey League and that was actually accurate—it seems there’s been no shortage of alumni making an impact at the National Hockey League level.

This season is certainly no exception.

Affectionately still known as “The Coast,” to many, hockey’s premier “AA” League has sent over 700 players to the NHL, including a whopping 70 players that were on Opening Day rosters of the league’s 32 teams in 2021-22, not to mention an additional seven since the season started. 

There are also 48 coaches with an ECHL background of some sort, either playing or coaching, who are on NHL benches. This includes Stanley Cup-winning head coach Peter Laviolette, a former head coach for the Wheeling Nailers who is currently serving as the bench boss for the Washington Capitals.

Here’s a brief look at five well-known ECHL alumni who are still getting it done at the game’s highest level.

Jonathan Quick

Now in his 15th season as the goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings, the 35-year-old had a memorable experience in his first professional season, which was mostly spent with the ECHL’s Reading Royals back in 2007-08. 

Quick recorded his first shutout, got his first win and scored his first goal all in the same game. He was credited with the latter when he was the last Royals player to touch the puck after the opposing goaltender had been pulled for the extra attacker and an errant pass went into the empty net.

He’s gone on to lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy during their first Cup run. He’s also a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist and Olympic silver medalist, earning that honor with Team USA in 2010.

ECHL Stats: 38 GP, 23-11-3, 2.79 GAA, .905 save pct.

NHL Stats (Entering 2021-22): 666 GP, 336-249-69, 2.41 GAA, 913 save pct.

Jordan Binnington

The fiery St. Louis Blues goaltender spent all but one game of his first full professional season in the ECHL, playing in 40 regular season games and three postseason contests for the Kalamazoo Wings.

After five and a half seasons in the minors, Binnington finally got the call-up to the NHL for good midway through the 2018-19 campaign and hasn’t looked back since. He became the first rookie goaltender to ever earn 16 wins in a single postseason, leading the Blues all the way to the Stanley Cup that year.

ECHL stats: 40 GP, 23-13-3, 2.35 GAA, .922 save pct.

NHL Stats: 125 GP, 72-32-16, 2.42 GAA, .915 save pct.

Jay Beagle

Beagle is the first player in hockey history to win the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, AHL’s Calder Cup and NHL’s Stanley Cup. He made his first steps in completing that trio when he won it all in the “E” with the Idaho Steelheads back in 2006-07, posting ten points in eight regular season games, then being one of the key contributors in their lengthy postseason run.

Now 36, he won the Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears in both 2009 and 2010, and finished the trifecta in his last season with the Washington Capitals, winning it all in 2018. After two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, he’s now providing a veteran presence on the Arizona Coyotes.

ECHL Stats: 8 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS

NHL Stats: 613 GP, 57 G, 85 A, 142 PTS

Braden Holtby

Holtby backstopped that Capitals team to their Stanley Cup in 2018, but had previously won the Vezina Trophy in 2016 as the NHL’s best goaltender after he tied the legendary Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a single season with 48.

He split his first professional season between the AHL and ECHL, appearing in 12 regular season games with the South Carolina Stingrays during the 2009-10 season. After ten years with Washington, Holtby played for the Vancouver Canucks last season, and is now manning the nets for the Dallas Stars.

ECHL Stats: 12 GP, 7-2-3, 2.95 GAA, .911 save pct.

NHL Stats: 489 GP, 289-133-49, 2.58 GAA, .915 save pct.

Philipp Grubauer

The German-born netminder spent most of two seasons in the ECHL, first when he spent the entirety of his first professional season with the South Carolina Stingrays in 2011-12, and then again when he played in 26 games for the Reading Royals the following year.

“Gru” eventually helped form an all-ECHL alum tandem with Holtby in Washington for several seasons before moving on to a very successful three-season run with the Colorado Avalanche, for whom he led the NHL in shutouts with seven in 2020-21. He was able to parlay that run into a six-year, $35.4 million deal this past off-season to serve as the starting goaltender for the expansion Seattle Kraken.

ECHL Stats: 69 GP, 42-18-6, 2.25 GAA, .915 save pct.

NHL Stats: 214 GP, 109-61-21, 2.34 GAA, .920 save pct.