The American Hockey League, which is celebrating its 75th season, is justifiably proud of it role it plays in grooming players for the NHL. But the league isn’t the only place where top-level caliber talent goes to develop the skills necessary to play on hockey’s biggest stage.
As of last count the ECHL has churned out 459 alumni who have played in the NHL. Some of the names who have that have made that jump are pretty impressive, including Tim Thomas, Jaroslav Halak, Jonathan Quick, Tomas Vokoun, Ruslan Fedotenko, Joe Corvo, Rich Pevelry, and two Admirals from 2010-2011, Chris Mueller and Mark Dekanich.
Of the five most recent former-ECHLers who got their NHL shot, three spent time with the Cincinnati Cyclones. Recently I asked Cyclones coach Jarrod Skalde who are the next players from Cincinnati who could make the move up to the NHL:
Skalde: Right off the top, I would have to say our goaltending. If you look at Chet Pickard, you see a talented, talented kid. He’s had some struggles up in Milwaukee, and that’s part of the reason why he is here now. But he works extremely hard. He understands where he’s at and what he has to do to get out of here and back up to Milwaukee and hopefully in the future with the Nashville Predators. Chet’s a pleasure to have down here in Cincinnati.
Another guy is Marc Cheverie with the Florida Panthers organization that is in the same boat. He is a top prospect that is in the ECHL right now trying to figure out his game. They are two guys that complement each other very well and share the same vision and same focus of wanting to get up to the National Hockey League.
There you have it, Pickard and Cheverie. With the Florida Panthers looking to unload Vokoun at some point, Cheverie looks like he might have the easier road of moving up.
(For more on Cincinnati’s role in the Nashville Predators/Milwaukee Admirals organization, check out my feature story here)
So Roundtable, Is there a player on Cincinnati who could eventually play in the NHL? Is there an alumnus of the ECHL on Milwaukee who could make the jump?