The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't technically have an ECHL affiliate during the 2017-18 season. They used the Quad City Mallards along with a few other teams.
Two players that were under contract with the Blue Jackets saw time with the Mallards. Jacob Graves and Ivan Kublakov had time with the team. They are now no longer with the organization.
Most NHL teams don't utilize the ECHL like many analytically forward organizations like the Toronto Maple Leafs have. They use it more so as a double-AA team and allow young players to get time on the ice. The 2017-18 iteration of the Cleveland Monsters didn't need to send many players down. The reasoning? They had plenty of injuries hit the club while also taking call-ups as well.
A mix of the two led the team to a poor season. That, along with a lack of young talent doomed the team before the season even started.
But why wouldn't you give younger players that are in a logjam a chance?
If anything, a trip to the ECHL for any Blue Jackets affiliated players means that you are going to be jettisoned shortly after. Just ask someone like Dante Salituro. That doesn't mean that Columbus is missing out on opportunities here.
These players aren't going on and making the NHL. But instead of having players being healthy scratches in the AHL, the ECHL should be used as an opportunity to have that player gain confidence, and then come back to the team. It has been done in baseball for a while, and it could be done more in hockey as well.
The ECHL may never be viable for a team like the Blue Jackets; the resources may not be there. Tiering prospects and enabling growth shouldn't ever be stifled - an opportunity is there for them, and it will be interesting to see if they take advantage of it.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery