ECHL All-Rookie Team named

By HF Staff

The ECHL has announced its All-Rookie Team for 2003-04. The All-Rookie Team was determined in a vote of ECHL coaches.

2003-04 ECHL All-Rookie Team

G – Nick Boucher, 23, Wheeling Nailers (20-5-1, 2.44 GAA, .910 save pct. in 28 games)
D – Derek Eastman, 24, Columbia Inferno (13 goals, 34 assists in 70 games, +19)
D – Brian Fahey, 23, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (11 goals, 26 assists in 55 games, +21)
F – Kevin Doell, 24, Gwinnett Gladiators (32 goals, 40 assists, in 60 games, +26)
F – Greg Barber, 23, San Diego Gulls (29 goals, 45 assists in 68 games, +15)
F – Jon Cullen, 26, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (29 goals, 45 assists in 68 games, +22)

Nick Boucher led the Wheeling Nailers to a division title and their first playoff appearance since 1998 this season, posting 20 wins to go with four shutouts and a 2.44 goals against average. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ ninth round pick in 2000 leads all rookie netminders in each of the three categories. Selected in the ninth round (280th overall) by Pittsburgh in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the 23-year-old Boucher is tied for third among all ECHL goaltenders with four shutouts and is 13th in goals against average. He is tied for the rookie lead with four shootout wins and ranks third among rookies with a save percentage of .910. Born in Cobble Hill, B.C., Boucher made six appearances for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this season and posted a .923 save percentage.

Boucher will move up in the Penguins system over time, but he is in a bad position because this is a system very deep in goal, headlined by Marc-Andre Fleury. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is probably the ceiling for Boucher for the next few seasons.

The Dartmouth graduate told the Wheeling News-Register that his transition from ECAC to pro hockey was difficult at times. “Learning what it takes to be a professional isn’t easy. I made a few mistakes like being late for practice. It takes a while to realize that this is a job and there are sacrifices you have to make to get to where you want to be,” Boucher said.

Defenseman Derek Eastman is tied for third among rookies with 16 power play assists and ranks eighth among league defensemen with 47 points in 70 games. Born in St. Paul, Minn., the 24-year-old Eastman leads Columbia Inferno defensemen with 13 goals, 34 assists, 47 points, five power-play goals, 16 power-play assists and 21 power-play points. He helped the Inferno to a division title this season.

Eastman is good at both ends of the ice, with a good shot and good outlet passing. He joined the Inferno after four years at St. Cloud State University. Eastman is 5’10”, 175 pounds.

Atlantic City defenseman Brian Fahey is tied for 18th among league defensemen with 37 points in 55 games. Selected in the fourth round (119th overall) by Colorado in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Fahey leads Atlantic City defensemen with 11 goals, 26 assists, nine power play goals, 13 power-play assists and 22 power play points. Under contract to Worcester of the AHL, the 23-year-old Fahey is tied for third on the team with nine power play goals while his 13 power play assists and 22 power play points rank fifth. Fahey was voted to the Eastern Conference roster for the 2004 Par-A-Dice ECHL All-Star Game in January. Born in Glenview, Ill., the 6’1” and 205-pound Fahey has appeared in two games with Worcester of the AHL this season and is currently on a call-up to Hershey of the AHL where he has scored one point in seven games.

Gwinnett center Kevin Doell leads ECHL rookies with 32 goals and seven game-winning goals while ranking third among rookies and tied for 15th overall in scoring with 72 points in 60 games. Born in Saskatoon, Sask., the 24-year-old Doell is fourth among rookies in plus-minus rating with +26 and ranks fifth in assists with 40. Under contract to Chicago of the AHL, the 5’11” and 190-pound Doell leads Gwinnett in goals with 32, points with 72, power play goals with 10, shorthand points with four, and game-winning goals with seven. Named CCM ECHL Rookie of the Month for February, Doell has also scored two points in eight games with Chicago of the AHL this season.

Doell joined the Gladiators out of the University of Denver. He is an exellent two-way player, who has mostly played on a line with captain Cam Brown and winger Blue Bennefield. His hockey sense is his best attribute. Read Hockey’s Future’s January 2004 interview with Doell here.

Voted to the Western Conference roster for the 2004 Par-A-Dice ECHL All-Star Game, San Diego right wing Greg Barber has 74 points (30 goals, 45 assists) in 69 games tying him for the scoring lead among rookies and tying him for 10th overall in the league in scoring. Tied for the rookie lead with 45 assists and first with 12 power-play goals, the 6’2” and 205-pound Barber is tied for third among rookies with 29 goals and tied for fourth in shorthand goals with two. Born in Kelowna, B.C., the 23-year-old Barber ranks second on San Diego with 29 goals, 45 assists and 11 power-play goals and is tied for second on the team in plus-minus rating with +15 and shorthand goals with two.

After four strong seasons at the University of Denver, Barber has become a fine two-way forward for San Diego, registering 12 power play goals to go with two shorthanded goals. Barber, a seventh round pick of the Boston Bruins in 1999, may get a shot with the AHL affiliate in Providence next season due to the Boston’s lack of depth forwards in their system. The only Western Division rookie on the All-Rookie team led the San Diego Gulls to a conference title.

Atlantic City forward Jon Cullen leads ECHL rookies with five shorthand goals, nine shorthand points, 20 power-play assists and 31 power-play points and he is tied for the rookie lead with 74 points, 45 assists and 11 power play goals in 68 games. He is tied for third among rookies with 29 goals and four shorthand assists. The 5’9” and 175-pound Cullen leads the ECHL with nine shorthand points while being tied for second with five shorthand goals and is tied for 11th overall in scoring with 74 points. Born in Alexandria, Minn., the 26-year-old Cullen leads Atlantic City in shorthand assists with four and shorthand points with nine. He has also appeared in one game with Hershey of the AHL.

Pete Winson and Holly Gunning contributed to this report. Discuss ECHL prospects on Hockey’s Future’s Message Boards.