It wasn't the news Carson Meyer probably wanted to hear.
But it's also fair to say he might not be where he is today without it.
When the coronavirus pandemic ended his Ohio State career mere days after he scored four goals in a Big Ten tournament game, the 2017 CBJ sixth-round draft pick was plunged into a world of uncertainty.
Meyer's college career was over, but what was going to happen from there? Who knew when he'd step on the ice next, and who knew who it would be with, as the deadline for the Blue Jackets to have exclusive rights to sign the Powell native came and went.
The reason? Blue Jackets brass just didn't see enough NHL potential in Meyer, at least to sign him immediately to a deal after the end of his college career. That was a message Meyer took to heart, not that it was easy to hear it.
"I was definitely a little nervous," he said recently in a chat with Dylan Tyrer of the Eldorado Scioto Downs Blue Jackets radio network. "It was a pretty stressful summer. My collegiate season got cut short, and I didn't get a chance to prove myself to an (amateur tryout offer), and ultimately Columbus didn't feel like at the time they had seen enough NHL potential out of me in college.
"And I would agree with that. I don't think my game was where it needed to be. I was scoring goals and getting on the stat sheet, but I wasn't playing a good, professional game."
Eventually, everything worked itself out. Meyer wasn't signed by Columbus but did sign a contract with the team's AHL affiliate in Cleveland with a chance to prove himself at the pro level. After a dedicated -- and long -- offseason of training, his start with the Monsters has been impressive, as the former AAA Blue Jackets standout has eight goals and 18 points in 21 games for Cleveland.
Meyer had a nine-game point streak run from mid-March through mid-April, and in all he has points in 14 of 21 games. And while he has just 13 penalty minutes, he's added a consistent energy and ruggedness to his game that both he and the Blue Jackets see as his ticket at the pro level.
"Talking with Chris Clark, our GM here in Cleveland, quite a bit over the last few years when he was a player development coach, I was a pretty good all-around player," Meyer said. "I did everything pretty well, but he always said, 'What's one thing that is going to elevate your game and get you to stick at the pro level?' It was kind of, when I wasn't scoring goals, what was I doing, you know?
"He has actually helped me develop a lot into a pro player this first year. The way I've done that is he likes when I play like a rat, which is not a term we always love to use, but it's playing hard minutes, playing a hard-nosed game, trying to get under the skin of my opponents, finish every hit, stuff like that. I think I've done that a lot better this season, and I think it's helped me a lot."
While Meyer has been a scorer nearly his entire life -- he racked up goals first with the AAA Blue Jackets program, had 32 goals in his lone season at the USHL level with Tri-City and posted 17 goals in 35 games his final year with the Buckeyes -- he doesn't profile as an elite offensive talent at the NHL level. Instead, his combination of solid offensive skill and hard work will have to be what punches his ticket at the next level.
But now he might get that chance, as the Blue Jackets have finally inked Meyer, signing him to an entry-level contract for next season.
"Ultimately, we were able to come to an agreement, and I'm obviously very happy about it," he said.
Monsters Rolling With Punches
The Monsters found out a week ago that they will not be playing postseason hockey, as with the world still emerging from the pandemic, most of the AHL's divisions have chosen not to pursue playoff games.
That means Cleveland's season will end when the last game of the season is staged May 15 at Grand Rapids, but that hasn't stopped the Monsters from compiling a 14-8-1-1 that is second in the Central Division. And even with the team depleted by injuries and callups -- only five CBJ-signed players competed in the game -- Cleveland is 6-3-0-1 in its last 10 games.
Those five are Meyer and fellow pro rookie Tyler Angle -- who also has a contract that starts next season -- along with forwards Josh Dunne and Cliff Pu along with defenseman Jake Christiansen. In addition, 2020 fifth-round pick Ole Bjorgvik-Holm is on the roster having signed for the rest of the year with the Monsters.
Yet the Monsters continue to forge on, led by many of those names. Dunne has scored in two straight games to give him four goals in his first 10 AHL games, while Meyer has been hot along with Angle, the 2020 seventh-round pick who is tied for the team lead with 19 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 18 games. Angle has five multipoint games and three two-goal games, including braces in back-to-back contests April 24-25 vs. Division-leading Chicago.
For all that's been thrown at Cleveland -- for example, goalies Matiss Kivlenieks and Daniil Tarasov have been called up to Columbus, leaving the team with longtime player/coach Brad Thiessen and ECHL signee Justin Kapelmaster in net -- the Monsters keep on keeping on.
The club finishes up with a road game tomorrow at Grand Rapids followed by three straight home games -- Saturday vs. Rochester then games May 11 and 14 vs. Grand Rapids -- followed by the finale at the Griffins a night later.
- The Russian season is over, but there is still some hockey going on overseas. In Finland, 2020 fourth-round pick Mikael Pyyhtia and TPS are in the Liiga finals, with the series vs. Lukko set to begin Friday. Pyyhtia, 19, had seven points in 35 regular-season games but has a 1-3-4 line in nine postseason games. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, Gregory Hofmann (the 28-year-old acquired from Carolina earlier this year) has 4-6-10 in 11 games with EV Zug after a point-per-game regular season. Zug currently leads Geneva-Servette in the five-game final. In Sweden, 2020 sixth-round pick Samuel Johannesson and Rögle BK are in the finals against Växjö, and Johannesson has zero points in six playoff games.
- Swiss defenseman Tim Berni, a 2018 sixth-round pick who signed an entry-level deal with Columbus last year, and his ZSC Lions lost in the Swiss playoffs, but he finished the year with a 4-3-7 line in 52 games plus a goal and two assists in nine playoff games.
- At the college level, it's been an offseason of transfers for CBJ draft picks. Goalie Peter Thome, a 2016 sixth-round pick, has transferred from perennial power North Dakota to St. Thomas University in his home state of Minnesota, which has jumped from Division III to D-I for next year. He should get a chance to start there. Meanwhile, University of Minnesota defenseman Robbie Stucker (a 2017 seventh-round pick) has left the University of Minnesota after three years to head to Vermont.