It's an exciting time for the Blue Jackets franchise, with a strong finish to the season and several young players stepping into key roles down the stretch.
The present is strong and the future is bright, and great news was announced today about that future.
If you haven't already heard, the Blue Jackets and Lake Erie Monsters (Cleveland) have agreed on a multi-year AHL affiliation agreement that begins with the 2015-16 season. That means the Jackets' top professional prospects (NHL/AHL) will all be playing in the state of Ohio for the foreseeable future. Pretty exciting stuff.
As a primer for this new partnership - which is fantastic for hockey in our state - we've compiled some key numbers from both the Blue Jackets' AHL success and the Monsters' AHL success, as well.
10 – The number of players on the Blue Jackets’ roster at the end of the 2014-15 season who were drafted, developed and also spent time with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. 2015 NHL All-Star Game MVP Ryan Johansen spent parts of two seasons playing for the Springfield Falcons.
142.3 – Miles separating the Blue Jackets’ home rink, Nationwide Arena, and that of the Lake Erie Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Equate that to a leisurely 2:15 drive up I-71, and it’s easy to see that watching the Jackets’ future play has never been easier. Also, Cleveland-area hockey fans have only a short drive to watch their favorite Monsters players when they're recalled to Columbus. We'd love to see you at Nationwide Arena.
4th – The Lake Erie Monsters boasted the fourth-best average home attendance (8,143) in the AHL this season. The franchise, in its eighth AHL season, has never finished outside the top 11 in average home attendance
63 – Number of goals scored this season (in 59 regular season games) by Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand, one of the many exciting young players coming up through the organization’s pipeline. Bjorkstrand is currently playing in the WHL playoffs with the Portland Winterhawks, a team that features alumni such as Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen.
2 – The number of division titles won by the Blue Jackets’ previous AHL affiliate (Springfield Falcons) from 2012-2015.
92 – Regular season games won the Blue Jackets’ top affiliate in a span of two seasons from 2012-14. For comparison’s sake, the Falcons won just 121 games in the four seasons prior. There was noticeable improvement in both talent and performance since the 2012-13 campaign, and that momentum has continued.
7 – AHL All-Star representatives in the last three seasons for the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate. This past January, the Jackets organization saw defenseman Austin Madaisky and goaltender Anton Forsberg named to the All-Star Classic held in Utica. N.Y.