The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced a multi-year extension with the Cleveland Monsters, keeping them as their AHL affiliate for the foreseeable future. Blue Jackets’ assistant GM Bill Zito explained why they made the decision to extend:
The partnership has been very successful for both organizations and markets over the past four years and we look forward to having our top prospects continue their development in Cleveland.
When Cleveland started their affiliation with Columbus in 2015-16, they immediately experienced the most success the franchise had ever seen. Going 43-22-11 under head coach Jared Bednar, the team won the Calder Cup championship after an impressive playoff run. That group—still known as the Lake Erie Monsters at the time—was led by some incredible postseason performances by a trio of youngsters including Lukas Sedlak, Oliver Bjorkstrand and 18-year old Zach Werenski. The team also included current Blue Jackets’ like Josh Anderson, Sonny Milano and Markus Hannikainen.
It’s that development success that makes this extension so important for the Blue Jackets, especially given the geographical proximity of the Monsters. Teams all across the NHL are trying to bring their AHL affiliates closer to home in order to take advantage of cap savings and emergency recalls, as well as giving their young players a chance to practice with the veterans at various times throughout the year. There are countless benefits from having a strong partnership with your primary minor league club, and this one has been quite fruitful for the Blue Jackets.