The Cleveland Monsters are just past the halfway mark of their season, and are currently tied for first place in the AHL's North Division, with a game in hand over the team they are tied with. Posting a record of 25-13-2, they're well positioned for a deep playoff run.
This is great news for the Blue Jackets, who have several quality prospects on the team. In fact, with just a quick glance at their roster, I can pick out roughly 10 guys who could become NHL players.
In the world of player development, nothing is more valuable to a franchise than a winning culture. So, even though some of these players are depth/fringe prospects; this kind of experience is vital for them on their paths to playing in the NHL.
The team is led by a lot of familiar faces, many of whom we can probably right off as future Jackets. But, having experienced pros like Trey Fix-Wolansky, Jake Christiansen, Brendan Gaunce, and Carson Meyer leading the way; seems to be helping the overall cause in a big way.
Look no further than the 2016 version of the Monsters. They won the Calder Cup that season, and there are some real parallels. They were led by long-time Jacket prospects like TJ Tynan, Michael Chaput, Alex Broadhurst, and John Ramage. None of these guys really made big marks in the NHL, but they were invaluable to the younger players in the organization.
The younger players on that team became big pieces for the Blue Jackets over their competitive run that lasted for the next several years. Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Joonas Korpisalo, and Zach Werenski were all part of that team.
This doesn't even include players who didn't make their marks in Columbus, but have found success elsewhere; such as Sonny Milano and Anton Forsberg.
Another key piece of that team? Trent Vogelhuber, who is the head coach of this year's Cleveland Monsters team. He surely understands the importance of having a positive winning culture in the AHL, and its value to the NHL team.
The Jackets can comfortably keep players like Luca del bel Belluz, Stanislav Svozil, James Malatesta, Jet Greaves, and Corson Ceulemans in Cleveland this year; knowing that they're playing meaningful hockey games at the professional level.
Hopefully, this will help them become stronger, highly confident players when they do get to the NHL level. A winning culture has to start somewhere. I'm excited to see what's happening in Cleveland.