I-71 Report: Playoff Pushes All Around


With the NHL and AHL trade deadlines firmly in the rearview mirror, the view ahead on I-71 features playoff pushes for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Cleveland Monsters with multiple recent transactions illustrating the two teams’ pursuits.

The Blue Jackets currently rank fifth in the Metropolitan Division and with 84 points sit in the second Eastern Conference Wild Card spot. While the Blue Jackets are in good position so far, the Monsters are in fifth place in the North Division and on the outside looking in with 68 points. Cleveland is currently four points behind the Belleville Senators for the final division playoff spot.

On Feb. 11 Blake Siebenaler was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Siebenaler left Cleveland putting up 14 points (7G, 7A) and 18 penalty minutes over 83 games during his three seasons with the Monsters. As part of a blockbuster trade the Blue Jackets executed to receive forward Matt Duchene, Vitaly Abramov was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 22. Abramov completed his time with the Monsters playing in 56 games totaling 26 points (13G, 13A) with a +1 rating and registering 124 shots.



Still parked up in Columbus since his recall on Feb. 11 is forward Eric Robinson. Robinson continues to develop his game at the NHL level, most recently filling in alongside line mates Nick Foligno and Josh Anderson.

Robinson has played in nine games since being called up, averaging 15 shifts a game and 11:53 time on ice. The 23-year-old has registered at least one shot in eight games and logged a personal NHL-high of three shots twice, once against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 18 and then again against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 19.



Kole Sherwood returned to Cleveland after playing in two games and making history as the first Columbus-area native to play for the Blue Jackets when he suited up on Feb. 16 against the Chicago Blackhawks.



Sherwood appeared in one game following his NHL debut and completed his time with the parent club on Feb. 18. The 22-year-old rookie had 25 shifts over two games totaling 18:27 time on ice with two shots on goal. 

Following a scoring chance against league-best Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 18, Sherwood spoke to the media postgame and described his time as a ‘whirlwind’ saying he was already looking forward to his next experience.

Defenseman Adam Clendening made the trip to Columbus on Feb. 18 to provide additional support and returned to Cleveland on Feb. 23. In four games played with the Blue Jackets earlier this season, Clendening registered three shots and had a +1 rating averaging 16 shifts a game.

The Blue Jackets ended February by agreeing to a contract extension for Cleveland’s leading scorer, Zac Dalpe. Dalpe signed a two-year, two-way contract extension through the 2020-21 season, and has been an offensive force this season playing in 43 games while putting up 41 points (23G, 18A). The forward has appeared in 98 games for Cleveland over three seasons posting 42 goals and 39 assists.



48 hours after finishing his last game in Finland, 19-year-old forward Alexandre Texier joined the Monsters on the road and made his AHL debut against the IceHogs in Rockford on Saturday. The Blue Jackets' 2017 draft pick lead his team in scoring with 41 points in 55 games and is someone the Columbus organization thinks will be a key player for their franchise down the line. While he didn't register any points in his debut, Texier will finish the year in Cleveland and the offensive addition could help get the Monsters into the playoffs.

The Monsters start another 'three in three' with a 7:00 p.m. road matchup against the North Division-leading Rochester Americans before returning home to face the Hershey Bears on Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. respectively.