A Playoff Run For The Cleveland Monsters Would Be A Slight Consolation Prize After A Disappointing Season In Columbus

By Dan Dukart on April 18, 2024 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing James Malatesta takes a shot against the Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended the season with a resounding win over a Carolina Hurricanes team who were resting players in advance of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They may have shared the same ice, but the two organizations remain worlds apart. And while the season is over for many of the Blue Jackets players, a good chunk of those who helped send the fans home happy (debatable) for the summer are heading up to Cleveland for what they hope will be a deep playoff run for the Monsters.

A full line of players - three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie, were all sent down to Cleveland for its final three regular-season games of the season. Other players, like Carson Meyer, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Jake Christiansen, and Brendan Gaunce, to name a few, also likely benefited from time in Columbus and should help the Monsters achieve their goals of playing deep into the spring.

The sunny-side-up version of the story goes something like this: Del Bel Belluz scored on his patented snapshot for his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot in his first NHL game. Jiricek should play a major role and develop in meaningful games in a very strong league. Malatesta is on a nice trajectory and looked the part of a future NHL player in his brief stint in Columbus. You could even make an argument that Christiansen and Blankenburg can be bottom-pair NHL players on a competitive roster. 

And while that is all well and good, it's hard to be overly optimistic about how it ultimately would impact the Blue Jackets. For every, "Well, actually, Malatesta looked pretty good...", there's the stark reality that hits you in the face. There's a mountain of difference between the AHL and NHL. And when the NHL team finishes in 29th place in a 32-team league, it should be a given that the AHL team is competitive. That's where they are in their life cycle. Those are table stakes. 

Looking ahead to a busy offseason and next season, most - if not all - of the aforementioned players should probably be in Cleveland again. A nice outcome would be for the Monsters go on a deep run this spring, for their best players to take steps in the right direction regarding their long-term development, and for the Blue Jackets to build on that momentum heading into what is already shaping up to be a crowded training camp. But while a deep run in Cleveland beats the alternative, it's unlikely that that success will find its way to Columbus next season. 

1 Comment
View 1 Comments