Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Craig to Represent Monsters at 2017 AHL All-Star Classic Presented by Capital BlueCross
CLEVELAND – The AHL’s defending Calder Cup Champions, the Cleveland Monsters, proudly powered by Constellation, announced Thursday, in conjunction with the American Hockey League, that Monsters leading goal-scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cleveland captain Ryan Craig were selected to represent the AHL’s Western Conference and Central Division during the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
A 6’0”, 175 lb. right-handed native of Herning, Denmark, Bjorkstrand, 21, is currently in the midst of his second professional season following his selection by the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets in the third round (89th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 22 appearances for Cleveland this year, Bjorkstrand logged 10-5-15 with six penalty minutes and a -4 rating, along with 0-1-1, six penalty minutes and a -1 rating in five appearances for the Blue Jackets this season.
In 73 career AHL games playedfor the Monsters spanning each of the past two seasons, Bjorkstrand has 27-17-44 to his credit with 16 penalty minutes and a -4 rating. In the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, Bjorkstrand posted 10-6-16 with two penalty minutes and a +9 rating in 17 appearances to help the Monsters claim the 2016 Calder Cup and earned the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2016 AHL Playoffs. In 17 career NHL appearances, all for the Blue Jackets, spanning the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Bjorkstrand earned 4-5-9 with six penalty minutes and a +5 rating.
Ryan Craig is in his 14th pro season and ninth as an AHL team captain, serving in that role with Springfield, Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before the last two years in Cleveland. Captain of the Monsters’ Calder Cup championship team in 2015-16, Craig has skated in 671 AHL games and totaled 165 goals and 182 assists for 347 points in his career, with four goals and five assists in 31 games for the Monsters in 2016-17. The 34-year-old native of Abbotsford, B.C., is also a two-time winner of his team’s IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award, and has appeared in 198 National Hockey League contests with Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Columbus. This will be Craig’s first trip to the AHL All-Star Classic and he will serve, along with Hershey Bears forward Chris Bourque, as one of two playing captains selected by the AHL for outstanding leadership and service to the league.
Starting at just $67, tickets for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s AHL All-Star Challenge. To purchase event tickets, please visit www.phantomshockey.com or www.pplcenter.com.
The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 93 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake Allen, Artem Anisimov, Patrice Bergeron, Ben Bishop, Troy Brouwer, Ryan Callahan, Zdeno Chara, Logan Couture, Braden Holtby, Tyler Johnson, Martin Jones, Chris Kunitz, Zach Parise, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, P.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, trainers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of NHL players last season were AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2015-16, over 7.1 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America, the highest total attendance in league history.