In Tumultuous Year, ECHL To NHL Pipeline Strong As Ever

In Tumultuous Year, ECHL To NHL Pipeline Strong As Ever

Over 700 ECHL alumni have made their way to the NHL, and that includes 20 debuts so far this season.

Jan 10, 2022 by Mike Ashmore
In Tumultuous Year, ECHL To NHL Pipeline Strong As Ever

Since its inception in 1988, the ECHL has served as a big part of the pipeline to get players to the next level.

And beyond.

While countless players have gone from the ECHL to the American Hockey League, one of the true legacies of “the Coast” is the over 700-plus alumni they’ve helped send to the National Hockey League, including over 525 since they changed their focus to become the NHL and AHL’s primary development league back in 2002-03.

Given the unique circumstances at both of the game’s top levels this year, those debuts have been coming fast and furious lately. Twenty former ECHL players have debuted in the NHL so far this season, as well as a whopping eight since December 28. This includes two players, Cameron Hillis and Hugo Alnefelt, who played in the league earlier this season, meaning you were able to watch them exclusively on FloHockey prior to them hitting the big time.

“We pride ourselves in being a developmental league, and it’s really being showcased right now,” ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin told FloHockey in a story that ran earlier this week. 

“Again, I’m not certain this is the way we would have scripted it, but it’s really come to the forefront here. That’s who we are in hockey’s development landscape.”

Here’s a quick look at each of those players who’ve come through the ECHL to reach the National Hockey League thus far this season.

Max Willman

NHL Debut: October 15, Philadelphia Flyers

ECHL Stats: 2019-20 Reading Royals; 20 games played, 9 goals-16 assists—25 points

Mason Geertsen

NHL Debut: October 19, New Jersey Devils

ECHL Stats: 2015-16 Fort Wayne Komets, 2016-17 Colorado Eagles; 30 GP, 1 G-8 A—9 PTS

Tommy Novak

NHL Debut: October 19, Nashville Predators

ECHL Stats: 2020-21 Florida Everblades; 3 GP, 1 G-2 A—3 PTS

Dysin Mayo

NHL Debut: October 21, Arizona Coyotes

ECHL Stats: 2016-17 Rapid City Rush; 25 GP, 1 G-15 A—16 GPTS

Connor Ingram

NHL Debut: October 24, Nashville Predators

ECHL Stats: 2017-18 Adirondack Thunder, 2018-19 Orlando Solar Bears; 16 games played, 10 wins-2 losses-1 overtime losses

Daniil Miromanov

NHL Debut: October 24, Vegas Golden Knights

ECHL Stats: 2018-19 Manchester Monarchs; 49 GP, 13 G-27 A—40 PTS

Michael Pezzetta

NHL Debut: November 2, Montreal Canadiens

ECHL Stats: 2018-19 Maine Mariners; 3 GP, 0 G-0 A—0 PTS

Zach Fucale

NHL Debut: November 11, Washington Capitals

ECHL Stats: 2016-17 and 2017-18 Brampton Beast, 2018-19 Fort Wayne Komets, 2019-20 Orlando Solar Bears, 2020-21 South Carolina Stingrays; 116 GP, 61W-33L-11OTL

Justin Danforth

NHL Debut: November 15, Columbus Blue Jackets

ECHL Stats: 2016-17 Reading Royals, 2017-18 Cincinnati Cyclones; 47 GP, 29 G-33 A—62 PTS

Ben Jones

NHL Debut: November 20, Vegas Golden Knights

ECHL Stats: 2019-20 Fort Wayne Komets; 8 GP, 1 G-4 A —5 PTS

Kristians Rubins

NHL Debut: December 7, Toronto Maple Leafs

ECHL Stats: 2018-19 Newfoundland Growlers; 56 GP, 2 G-16 A—18 PTS

Adam Huska

NHL Debut: December 8, New York Rangers

ECHL Stats: 2019-20 Maine Mariners; 3 GP, 1W-2L-0OTL

Sean Day

NHL Debut: December 28, Tampa Bay Lightning

ECHL Stats: 2018-19 and 2019-20 Maine Mariners; 55 GP, 9 G-26A—35 PTS

Ethan Prow

NHL Debut: December 29, Buffalo Sabres

ECHL Stats: 2016-17 and 2017-18 Wheeling Nailers; 4 GP, 0 G-2 A—2 PTS

Brandon Baddock

NHL Debut: December 30, Montreal Canadiens

ECHL Stats: 2016-17 Adirondack Thunder; 21 GP, 0 G-4 A—4 PTS

Hugo Alnefelt

NHL Debut: December 30, Tampa Bay Lightning

ECHL Stats: 2021-22 Orlando Solar Bears; 2 GP, 0W-2L-0OTL

Felix Sandstrom

NHL Debut: December 30, Philadelphia Flyers

ECHL Stats: 2019-20 Reading Royals; 25 GP, 13W-11L-1OTL

Cameron Hillis

NHL Debut: January 1, Montreal Canadiens

ECHL Stats: 2021-22 Trois Rivieres Lions; 6 GP, 0 G-3 A—3 PTS

Zach Sawchenko

NHL Debut: January 2, San Jose Sharks

ECHL Stats: 2019-20 and 2020-21 Allen Americans; 20 GP, 14W-3L-3OTL

Bryce Kindopp

NHL Debut: January 5, Anaheim Ducks

ECHL Stats: 2020-21 Tulsa Oilers; 14 GP, 2 G-2 A—4 PTS