The year 2013 commemorates the 25th anniversary of the ECHL, a league that has ties to 25 NHL teams currently, but who are the best players that got a start in the ECHL?
Since 1988, hundreds of players have made a jump from the ECHL to the NHL, including Alex Burrows, David Desharnais and Dan Girardi, among others.
To commemorate the league's anniversary, here are the top 20 NHLers who got their starts in the ECHL.
Before David Desharnais was skating for the Montreal Canadiens, he made his living playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.
Due to hard work and determination, Desharnais rose through the ranks on his way to becoming an NHL mainstay.
Tomas Vokoun is a journeyman netminder who has made a name for himself in the NHL, but he wasn't always a standout goaltender in the hockey world.
Vokoun had to work his way through the system by getting a start with the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL's Atlantic Division.
Before Tim Thomas was a world-renowned goaltender who was a multiple Vezina Trophy winner, Conn Smythe winner and a Stanley Cup champion, he was a simple, no-name goaltender with the Birmingham Bulls.
However, this journeyman goaltender eventually earned an NHL shot, and he took it and ran on the way to becoming an NHL star.
Mark Streit is another NHL star who once made his living in the ECHL. Streit was once a mainstay on the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks' blue line before making the transition to becoming a solid offensive NHL defenseman.
Currently with the Islanders, Streit is an underrated veteran defenseman who has a lot of game left in him.
Michael Ryder is a Stanley Cup champion and a right winger who is a consistent 20- to 30-goal scorer.
Before playing for Montreal, Boston and Dallas, Ryder skated for both Tallahassee and Mississippi of the ECHL.
Ryder is a solid two-way threat and a player who knows how to win.
Jonathan Quick is the reigning Conn Smythe winner and a goaltender who made major headlines during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Quick wasn't always a goaltender in the spotlight because he was once the starting netminder of the Reading Royals, a current affiliate of the Washington Capitals.
Rich Peverley is currently with the Boston Bruins and is a Stanley Cup champion center who is known for his two-way play and penalty-killing ability.
Before making the NHL as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, Peverely bounced between the South Carolina Stingrays and the Reading Royals.
Braden Holtby was another young goaltender who made a huge impact during the past Stanley Cup playoffs with his team.
He was a goalie who also made a name for himself at the AHL level, but he also played for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.
Dan Girardi's journey to the NHL is one of the most inspiring of players currently in the league. Girardi was undrafted, and he played in the CHL and the ECHL for the Charlotte Checkers.
Girardi eventually made it to the New York Rangers and the cherry on top of his story so far was earning an NHL All-Star spot in 2012.
Alex Burrows has found his niche as a secondary scorer and agitator with the Vancouver Canucks, but he got his start in pro hockey as an ECHL journeyman,
Burrows' journey throughout the league included stints with the Greenville Grrrowl, the Baton Rouge Kingfish and the Columbia Inferno.
Ruslan Fedotenko is one of the NHL's top veteran forwards who got a start in the ECHL. The two-time Stanley Cup champion spent his entire ECHL career with the Trenton Titans before making his way into the NHL.
Manny Legace was one of the NHL's most underrated backup goalies during his NHL career. Legace only spent 3 games in the ECHL before making his way to the NHL.
In 365 games as a backup, Legace won 187 games, recorded 24 shutouts and has a GAA of 2.41.
Cory Conacher is a rising star in the NHL as one of the league's top rookies. Before he made his mark with the Norfolk Admirals/Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, Conacher was a forward with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.
Conacher has a lot of potential, and he is one of the top stars currently fresh out of the ECHL.
Martin Biron is a goaltender that has bounced between being a starter and a backup in the NHL. Throughout his career, Biron has won 228 games and 28 shutouts.
Before playing in the NHL, Biron played for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.
Andrew Brunette has had a nice NHL career to date, and his strong start with the Hampton Roads Admirals of the ECHL helped contribute to his success.
Brunette has 733 points in over 1100 games to date, and he has been a nice complementary scorer on the teams he was on.
Francois Beauchemin was a member of the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the ECHL briefly before he advanced through the ranks as a defenseman.
Beauchemin has played for four teams during his NHL career, including a 2007 Stanley Cup championship season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Derek Boogaard was one of the NHL's most feared enforcers during his professional hockey career.
Before "Boogeyman" was terrorizing players in the NHL, he was an enforcer for the Louisiana IceGators.
He eventually made his NHL debut and had a solid career before his tragic death in 2011.
Joe Corvo has bounced around between a few NHL teams during his career, but throughout it, he has been a solid, top-four defender.
Before Corvo was a full-fledged NHL defender, he patrolled the blue line of the Hampton Roads Admirals.
Deryk Engelland is a shutdown defender for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a player who may not have gotten to showcase his skills without spending some time in the ECHL.
Engelland spent some time with the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Reading Royals and the South Carolina Stingrays before becoming an NHL fixture with the Penguins.
Jaroslav Halak is a starting goaltender with the St. Louis Blues, and he is one of the league's top netminders.
Halak is a goaltender who was on the verge of setting records in 2011-12 and is off to another good start in 2013.
Halak was once the netminder for the Long Beach IceDogs before he made his NHL debut.