For this week’s prospect report we are going to focus on the Cleveland Monsters. The Monsters have been playing very well to start the season, putting behind the dreadful year they had last season.
The Monsters are off to a 5-2-0 start. Their 10 points have them second in the division. They won both their games over the weekend, a 4-3 victory over Utica on Friday and a 4-0 shutout over Binghamton on Saturday.
Despite the good start, the Monsters are still a flawed team. Per Prospect-Stats they have a goals for percentage of 58.97% but only have 45.22% of the shots. They are getting outshot but have been getting wins thanks to some rock-solid goaltending. The Monsters have a .936 save percentage as a team, second in the league. JF-Berube has helped solidify the position putting up a .924 sv% in five games. Cleveland had also got solid play from their backup net-minders. Brad Thiessen had a .935 sv% in his lone start of the season, and Matiss Kivlenieks pitched a shutout in his first start of the season on Saturday.
This was a major weakness for the Monsters last season. Even if it won’t stay at this level if they can get above average goal-tending, it will help cover a lot of flaws and help some of the young players as work through some tough stretches.
Offensively Zac Dalpe has been leading the way. He had two goals and an assist over the weekend and leads the team with nine points in seven games. After Dalpe it’s been the rookie Eric Robinson, who has put up six points in seven games. Robinson, our 14th ranked prospect, was a bit of an unknown heading into the season. As an NCAA free agent signing, he came into the Blue Jackets at the end of the season and thus there wasn’t much time to see him. He had a decent college career, but there were some concerns about his offensive upside. He’s answered some of those concerns with his play in the early going, and hopefully, he can continue to play at a level close to this as the season goes on.
Other players off to strong starts include Paul Bittner and Gabriel Carlsson. Bittner has six points in five games, while Carlsson has four in four since being sent down. Both players were high draft picks, and are finally starting to have things come together for them, for at least a short stretch.
As for everyone’s favorite Monster, Vitaly Abramov, he’s been fine. He has one goal and two assists in six games. I know we were all expecting him to light the world on fire like he showed in his prior stint but that just wasn’t going to happen. He needs time to adjust and figure the league out.
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