About three and half years ago I wrote an article about the record-breaking 2003-04 season in which 40 former ECHLers made the show (record later eclipsed by 47 in 2005-06). The article was data-heavy, mostly demographics. So far this season, 15 players have made it, which is a good pace for late January. Today I looked at the demographics to compare this crop to the 2003-04 crop (essentially four years apart). Below is a chart of the highlights.
In a nutshell, this year's graduates played in the ECHL longer, scored more while they were there, and are scoring more in the NHL as well. More of them had NHL contracts while they played in the ECHL, though the percentage of those who were ever drafted was similar. This goes hand in hand with something Dan Marr said the other night, that the ECHL is getting younger (more developmental).
ECHL graduates to the NHL in 2003-04 vs. 2007-08
|Position||20% G, 10% D||27% G, 0% D|
|ECHL GP||33 gp (range 0-98)||55 gp (range 5-174)|
|No. of ECHL seasons||70% one season||47% one season|
| ||20% two seasons||33% two seasons|
| ||10% three seasons||20% three seasons|
|Age at NHL debut||24 (range 20-33)||24 (range 21-28)|
|Avg no. in draft||121st||127th|
Interestingly, none of the graduates this year have been defensemen. Only 10% were defensemen in 2003-04. Goaltenders remain disproportionately represented. The total career ECHL games went up pretty dramatically, from 33 to 55, meaning players are spending longer in the league before moving up. The number of seasons among which the 55 games were spread was longer too. Over half spent more than one season in the ECHL.
The age of NHL debut and the percentage drafted stayed the same, as did the average draft slot. Points scored per game in the ECHL is up significantly, and the NHL scoring follows it. It's a more skilled player who is making it. As further evidence of this, the average penalty minutes per game in the ECHL by the graduates is also down.
As always, the best way to increase your odds of making it to the NHL out of the ECHL is to have an NHL contract while you're there. Two-thirds of players who made it this year had NHL contracts to start with.
Kevin Doell stands out as the oldest of this year's crop to make it, at age 28. Colin Stuart is tied with Daniel Winnik with the fewest ECHL games played at five. He was barely with the team and didn't really belong here at the time, but that's water under the bridge now.
You can view a complete list of the 345 ECHL alumni here.