The ECHL tries to sell itself as a double A hockey league even though no one uses those terms for hockey farm teams. Double A in baseball is a training league to develop players going to the majors.
On the current Vancouver Canucks, there is a single player that has played in the ECHL - Alexandre Burrows. He was in the ECHL because he went undrafted, not because he was being groomed to be a player in the NHL. He did part of a season in the ECHL once he signed with the Canucks.
Meanwhile 21 current Canucks have spent some time in the AHL, 12 in Major junior hockey and 7 in Junior A.
With the WHL you are watching the next generation of NHL players, you are watching the future stars. In the 1980s the Victoria Cougars had several players graduate to be career NHLers
- Geoff Courtnall
- Russ Courtnall
- Barry Pederson
- Paul Cyr
- Greg Adams
There were also another dozen or so that played some time in the NHL. The other WHL teams that came to town had some of the biggest NHL stars of the last 20 years on them.
Remember, this was an era where the ownership of the Victoria Cougars seemed to be trying to kill the team.
I see no serious path for players to go from the ECHL to the AHL and then to the NHL. I really would like to see Victoria move away from this backwater of the hockey world and re-enter the mainstream.